Explosions across Baghdad kill at least 38 people


BAGHDAD, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Bombs exploded across the Iraqicapital on Monday, killing at least 38 people, police said, assuspected Sunni Islamist militants pursued a campaign to provokeintercommunal conflict.

Eight of the 10 blasts in Baghdad were in mainly Shi'itedistricts, but there was also an explosion in a mixed area andanother in the predominantly Sunni Muslim neighbourhood ofDoura.

In the deadliest attack, a parked car blew up in acommercial street in Husseiniya, killing five people.

Separately, four members of a government-backed Sunnimilitia were killed in a roadside bombing in northern Baghdadearlier on Monday, and six people including a police officerdied in fighting between militants and special forces in Hilla,100 km (60 miles) south of the capital.

A surge of violence has killed more than 6,000 people acrossIraq this year, reversing a decline in sectarian bloodshed thatreached a climax in 2006-07.

At that time, Sunni tribesmen banded together and foundcommon cause with U.S. troops to rout al Qaeda, forcing itunderground. But al Qaeda has re-emerged this year to joinforces with fellow militants in neighbouring Syria.

The civil war in Syria has put acute pressure on Iraq'sdelicate sectarian balance, which was already under strain frompower struggle between Sunnis, Shi'ites and ethnic Kurds, whorun their own affairs in the north.

The al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levantclaimed responsibility on Sunday for a rare bomb attack in theusually peaceful Kurdistan region last month.

At least six people were killed when militants tried tostorm the headquarters of the security services in the Kurdishcapital Arbil on Sept. 29, the first big attack there since2007.

In a statement posted online, the group said the attack wasin response to Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani's pledge todefend fellow Kurds in Syria.

In recent months, a Kurdish militia has been fighting mainlyArab rebels and Islamists in northern Syria, opening an ethnicfront in a civil war that has increasingly been fought alongsectarian lines.

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