Four car bomb attacks and a mortar strike on Shi'ite Muslim parts of Baghdad killed 36 people and wounded 98 within a span of two hours on Thursday afternoon, police and medical officials said.
An Iraqi Shi'ite political figure said the assaults, part of a surge of violence in Shi'ite neighborhoods in recent weeks, were revenge attacks by Sunni Muslim Islamic State militants.
The al-Qaida offshoot has been battling Shi'ite militias and soldiers loyal to the country's Shi'ite-led government as it attempts to establish a cross-border caliphate covering land seized in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
A suicide car bomb hit an army checkpoint near a restaurant in the northern district of Talibiya at 2:30 p.m. local time (1130 GMT), killing nine people, said officials. Forty-five minutes later, a pair of car bombs exploded in the district of al-Dawlai in western Baghdad, killing 16 people and wounding 35.
Minutes after that, five mortar rounds hit the neighboring Shi'ite district of al-Shaoula, killing another five and wounding 21 others. A car bomb then exploded in the nearby Hurriya district, leaving six dead and wounding 14 others.
“They (Islamic State group) are making a statement to the Shi'ites fighting them. ... We can target you in your household,” said Kareem al-Noori, from the Badr Organization, a powerful Shi'ite political party with a militia wing.
There was a relative lull in violence in Baghdad after Islamic State militants swept the city of Mosul and much of northern Iraq in June and threatened to march on Iraq's capital.
Increase in violence
But the violence has increased in the city since late September.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in office for a month and still without a defense or interior minister due to rifts among the country's main Shi'ite and Sunni political parties, on Wednesday sought to soothe Baghdad's jangled nerves.
“Baghdad is safe and the vicious terrorists can't and will not reach it,” Abadi said in a televised speech at a military ceremony.
“Our brave security forces have managed to secure Baghdad and its perimeter.”