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Seven car blasts across Baghdad kill at least 13

BAGHDAD: Seven car bombs exploded across Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 13 people in apparently coordinated attacks that targeted mainly Shi'ite Muslim districts, security sources said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings. But Sunni Islamist militants have been regaining ground in Iraq, particularly in the western province of Anbar where they overran two cities on January 1.

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed across the country, building on a trend of intensifying violence that made last year Iraq's bloodiest since 2008, when sectarian warfare began to abate from its height.

On Thursday, bombs were detonated in the predominantly Shi'ite neighborhoods of Sadr City, Karrada, Hurriya, Ubaidi and Shaab. Civilians from Iraq's Shi'ite majority are often targeted by Sunni insurgents.

Another explosion killed three people in the commercial Bab al-Sharqie district, near a bridge across the river Tigris leading to the heavily-fortified "Green Zone", home to the prime minister's office and several Western embassies.

In recent days, militants have staged a series of attacks near the Green Zone and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, heightening concerns about Iraq's ability to protect strategic sites as security deteriorates.

The city of Falluja is currently surrounded and under shelling from the Iraqi army in preparation for a possible ground assault to end a month-long standoff with Sunni anti-government fighters inside the Anbar city.

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