Car bombs kills 35 in Iraq
Car bomb blasts killed at least 35 people on Friday in two mainly Shiite Muslim areas in Iraq, police said, in violence which is likely to further highten ethnic tensions.
A double car bomb in central Baghdad killed 19 people and injured 42 others. In Hilla, 100 kilometres to the south, 13 people were killed and 53 injured in two car bombings.
In Karbala, also south of Baghdad, three people were killed when a care exploded outside the main post office in the city.
Such violence has been blamed on Sunni Muslim insurgents, who want to topple to government of Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He has also been facing protests by the Sunni minority, which accuses him of marginalizing their sect.
Earlier this month, the Islamic State of Iraq, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, called on Sunnis to take up arms against the government to restore "dignity and freedom."
Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr said Friday he did not fear al-Qaeda's threat on demonstrations in Sunni areas.
"I am not afraid for demonstrations in Anbar and other areas to be penetrated by al-Qaeda and terrorists, but I fear reckless passion, deviant beliefs and sectarian tendencies," said al-Sadr.
His statement comes after a number of tribal leaders from the Shiite-dominated southern cities were attacked when they visited rallies last week.
"I wish those responsible for the legitimate demonstrations, though their demands have not been met, to apologize to their brothers and clans from the south," he added.
Al-Sadr, who has been an influential figure in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in the 2003 US-led invasion, has previously urged al-Maliki to engage in direct talks with demonstrators and listen to their demands.