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Baghdad bombing kills up to 25

Baghdad: The toll from a wave of bombings across Baghdad late Saturday has risen to at least 25 dead, security and medical officials said, the latest in a surge of unrest.

The violence, which included at least a half-dozen car bombs and left more than 70 people wounded, struck all over the capital, including against an upscale shopping centre, and sparked a prison break at a juvenile detention centre.

The bombings and a deadly weeks-long standoff in the western province of Anbar, part of a nationwide rise in violence that has killed more than 600 people this month, come just months ahead of parliamentary elections.

In Baghdad on Saturday evening, seven attacks — including six car bombs — killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 70 others, security and medical officials said on Sunday, updating earlier tolls.

One of the blasts went off near the glitzy new Mansur Mall, one of the capital's most upscale shopping centres, where families and young people often meet in the evenings to go to the cinema or eat at Western-style restaurants.

At least six people were killed and 12 more were wounded.

Another car bomb in the Taubchi neighbourhood detonated near a juvenile detention centre, and conflicting reports of a prison break spurred authorities to effectively shut the area down, an AFP journalist said.

The blast killed seven people and left 19 others wounded, officials said.

An interior ministry official said 23 detainees escaped in the chaotic aftermath of the attack, but Iraqiya state TV said security forces prevented the attempted jailbreak.

Bombs elsewhere in Baghdad killed 12 people in all.

Saturday's unrest was the latest in a long-running trend of attacks hitting the capital in the evening, when Baghdad's residents congregate in cafes, markets, restaurants and shops.

Such onslaughts had previously struck during morning rush hour.

No group immediately claimed the attacks, but Sunni militants linked to Al Qaeda often carry out waves of coordinated bombings in the capital against civilian targets.

Diplomats and analysts have called for the authorities to address longstanding grievances in the Sunni Arab minority in order to undercut support for Sunni militants, but Iraqi officials have focused on security operations with parliamentary elections looming in April.

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