A series of bombings in central and south Iraq’s overwhelmingly Shiite cities shortly before the breaking of the Ramadan fast and other attacks killed at least 38 in Iraq on Sunday, bringing the July death toll to more than 350.
The attacks are just the latest in a surge in violence in which more than 2600 people have died so far this year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni Arab minority which the Shi’ite-led government has failed to address has driven the spike in unrest.
Insurgents have been pounding Iraq with bombings and other attacks for months in the country’s worst eruption of violence in half a decade. The pace of the killing has picked up since the Muslim holy month Ramadan began Wednesday, with daily mass-casualty attacks marring what is meant to be a month of charity and peaceful reflection.
Violence in Iraq has risen to its deadliest level since 2008, with more than 2,800 people killed since the start of April. The spike in bloodshed is growing increasingly reminiscent of the widespread sectarian killing that peaked in 2006 and 2007, when the country teetered on the brink of civil war.
Insurgents often increased attacks during Ramadan in the years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Pious Muslims go without food, drink, smoking and sex in the daytime during the holy month, when feelings of spiritual devotion are high.
Sunday’s explosions struck shortly before the evening iftar meal that ends the daylong fast during Ramadan.