IRAQ: A wave of bomb attacks has hit Iraq as people celebrated the Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of Ramadan, with more than 60 reported dead.

Eleven bombs targeted both Shia and Sunni areas of the capital, Baghdad, hitting cafes, markets and restaurants in at least nine different districts.

A bomb also killed at least 10 people in Tuz Khurmato, north of the capital.

This Ramadan in Iraq is thought to have been one of the deadliest in years, with more than 670 people killed.

Most of the violence in the past six months has involved Sunni Islamist militant groups targeting Shia Muslim districts.

More than 4,000 people have died in such attacks this year. A further 9,865 have been injured, with Baghdad province the worst hit.

Maliki vow

More than 170 people were reported injured in the latest wave of violence.

The capital's deadliest car bomb attack on Saturday struck in the evening near an outdoor market in the south-eastern suburb of Jisr Diyala, police said, killing seven people and injuring 20.

 

Correspondents say the areas struck in the capital were both Shia and Sunni districts.

Among the areas struck were Amil, Abu Dashir, Khazimiya, Baiyaa, Shaab, Husseiniya and Dora.

Saif Mousa, the owner of a shoe store in the mainly Shia New Baghdad, said he was sitting in his shop when he heard an explosion outside.

He told the Associated Press news agency: "My shop's windows were smashed and smoke filled the whole area. I went outside of the shop and I could hardly see because of the smoke. We had a terrible day that was supposed to be nice."

At least another 10 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack in Tuz Khurmato, 170km (105 miles) north of Baghdad.

Other attacks were reported in the Shia holy city of Karbala, 80km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, and Nasiriya, 375km (230 miles) south of the capital.

Another went off near a Shia mosque in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Last week Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed to continue operations against militants, saying: "We will not leave our children to these murderers and those standing behind them and supporting both inside and outside."

Many Sunnis accuse Mr Maliki's Shia-led government of marginalising them.

The tensions this year were fuelled in April when Iraqi security forces broke up an anti-government Sunni protest in the city of Hawija, killing and wounding dozens of protesters.

Then last month, hundreds of inmates escaped after gunmen stormed two jails near Baghdad - Abu Ghraib to the west of the capital and Taji to the north.

The spike in violence in Iraq has raised fears of a return to the levels of sectarian killing seen following the US invasion 10 years ago, and has led commentators to discuss once again the prospect of partition along community lines.

The Iraqi government has also faced widespread criticism over corruption and the provision of basic services.

The conflict in neighbouring Syria, itself increasingly taking the form of a Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict, is further straining community relations in Iraq.