More than 50 people were killed and dozens more injured when a wave of car bombs detonated in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Monday.
A number of explosions, as many as 14 by some accounts, went off in largely Shi'ite neighborhoods during rush hour Monday morning. Most of the blasts targeted outdoor markets and parking areas. In the the hardest-hit area, Kadhimiyah, a bomb went off directly outside of a vegetable market, killing at least seven.
The attacks on Monday were the deadliest assault in a little over a week. On September 21, suicide bombers targeted funeral tents filled with mourners, killing 104 people.
On Monday, Iraqi forces were sent to secure the areas where attacks occurred, as firefighters tried to extinguish flames from the detonations. Bombers often target heavily traveled areas and busy markets during the busiest times of day.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for Monday's attack, but many believe it to be the work of Sunni Muslim militants. The group views Shi'ites are heretics and a threat to their religious sect. Additionally, the minority Sunnis have long been unhappy with the government that took control after the demise of Saddam Hussain's rule in 2003, and this year alone have embarked on bloody protests and backlash against the decisions of the administration — for example, seeking to arrest a key Sunni figure in December, and a raid by security forces in April. One official noted that things "would only get worse," as al Qaeda may increase violence against both Sunni and Shia sects to incite more bloodshed.
An increase in violence has taken hold in Iraq this year, plunging the country back into a situation akin to the sectarian bloodshed between 2006-8, which at its height saw 3,000 people killed every month. On Sunday, 47 people were killed by a suicide bomber who attacked a mosque in Baghdad. And on Friday, six were killed when two bombs went off near Sunni mosques.
According to the United Nations, about 5,000 people have been killed this year amidst continuing tensions between the country's Sunni and Shia populations. The organization Iraq Body Count cites the number as 6,000, and both groups agree that more than 10,000 others have been injured. Government officials have implicated al Qaeda for stoking the flames of the ongoing conflict and encouraging more violence within the country.
The violence has been mounting since April, when an army raid of a Sunni protest camp turned deadly. Interior Ministry Spokesman Saad Maan told the Associated Press: "Our war with terrorism goes on."