Dozens of separate though seemingly coordinated attacks across Iraq left scores of people dead on Tuesday. Bombings occurred in the northern city of Kirkuk and the southern city of Karbala. Explosions in Baghdad also claimed lives, and smaller attacks in Ramadi, Mahmudiya and other cities as well.
Today, March 20th, marks the ninth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The attacks also come days before Iraq plays host to the Arab Summit.
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A wave of car bombings and roadside blasts across several cities in Iraq have killed at least 44 people and wounded more than 180 people, police and hospital sources say.
One of the deadliest attacks targeted the city of Karbala, where at least 13 people were killed.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb exploded near a police headquarters, killing 13 and wounding 30.
Bombings death toll
Kirkuk, 13 dead
Karbala, 13 dead
Baghdad, 6 dead
Ramadi, 2 dead
Mahmudiya, 2 dead
"We have also received parts of bodies, but we do not know who they belong to," said Mohammed Abdullah, a doctor at Kirkuk hospital.
While a bomb in a parked car detonated inside the garage of Kirkuk police department, another bomb went off in the same street.
Sources told Al Jazeera there had also been a suicide car bombing in the Allawi district of central Baghdad, killing three people.
Blasts also occurred in Baiji, Samarra, Tuz Khurmato, Daquq and Dhuluiya, all north of Baghdad, and Hilla and Latifiya in the south.
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Agence France-Presse reports:
Tuesday's violence was Iraq's deadliest day since January 14, when 53 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside the southern port of Basra.
The attacks come on the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the US-led invasion of Iraq which ousted Saddam Hussein, and just days before Baghdad hosts an Arab League summit, the first meeting of the 22-nation body to be held in the capital since Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Officials insist Iraq's forces are capable of maintaining security for the summit, but admit they may need to effectively shut down Baghdad to do so.
Following the February 23 violence, officials said Al-Qaeda is bent on derailing the summit in an attempt to stoke instability in Iraq to give it further room to operate.
Violence across the country is down from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 150 Iraqis were killed in February, according to official figures.