36 killed in wave of bombings in Iraq
BAGHDAD — A wave of car bomb blasts tore through Baghdad neighborhoods on Monday, killing at least 36 and deepening fears that Iraq is rapidly spiraling out of control again.
The attacks capped a week of turmoil that is posing the greatest test of Iraq's stability since U.S. troops left the country in 2011. At least 218 people have been killed in attacks and battles between gunmen and security forces that began last week with clashes at a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq.
The unrest follows months of protests among Iraq's Sunni minority, who say they are being marginalized by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government.
Iraqi officials fear that Sunni feelings of disenfranchisement could be exploited by extremist groups.
In a possible sign of mounting concerns about the security situation, Iraqi authorities said they plan to close the country's border crossing with Jordan beginning on Tuesday. The route to the border runs through the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, west of Baghdad, which have been hotbeds of Sunni anger at the government.
The Interior Ministry spokesman, Lt. Col. Saad Maan Ibrahim, insisted that the border closure is a technical matter and is unrelated to ongoing tensions in the country. He said it should reopen within 48 hours.
The deadliest attack struck the southern city of Amarah. Two parked cars loaded with explosives went off simultaneously in the morning near a gathering of construction workers and a market, killing 18 and wounding 42, the police said. That attack was followed by a car bombing near a restaurant in Diwaniyah, which killed nine and wounded 23.
Amarahand Diwaniyah, south of the capital, are heavy Shiite areas.
Hours later, a car bomb went off in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, killing three civilians and wounding 14, police said. And a car bomb ripped through a Shiite neighborhood in the Sunni town of Mahmoudiya, killing six and wounding 14.