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Authorities say Violence in Iraq at Highest Level Since Invasion

Despite an increased U.S. military presence in Baghdad, there was more sectarian violence Thursday. A car bomb and shooting attacks killed 11 people, and American military authorities now say that the violence in Iraq is at its highest level since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

A car bomb exploded Thursday near an outdoor market in Baghdad's biggest Shi'ite district, Sadr City. At least four people were killed and 20 wounded. To the north of Baghdad in Baquba attacks killed at least six people. And northeast of Baghdad in Balad an Iraqi soldier guarding oil fields was shot dead.

The wave of violence in the capital is taking place despite an increased U.S.-military presence in the city.

The stepped-up presence follows one of the most violent months since the war began in March 2003 to oust the regime of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. military says in the month of July a total of 2,625 bombs exploded or were discovered before they could detonate. U.S. officials say about 70 percent of the bombs were directed at U.S.-led forces, 20 percent at Iraqi security forces and 10 percent against civilians. On Wednesday, an official in Iraq's health ministry said about 3,500 Iraqis died in July as a result of political violence.

U.S. officials deny that Iraq is in a civil war, but earlier this month U.S. General John Abizaid, the head of the U.S. Central Command, told a congressional committee that Iraq may be headed in that direction.