Series of bombings kill 22 in Iraq

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

BAGHDAD — A series of bombings struck Baghdad and towns south of the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing at least 22 and wounding dozens in areas that are home to mostly Muslim Shiites — the latest evidence of rising sectarian discord in Iraq.

The attackers struck a day before tens of thousands of Sunni Muslims are expected to take to the streets in what have become weekly protests against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The rallies are exacerbating long-simmering tensions between Iraq's Sunnis and the Shiite majority nearly a decade after the U.S.-led invasion.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but car bombings in Shiite areas are a favorite tactic of Sunni extremists such as al-Qaida's local affiliate. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, considers Shiites to be heretics.

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