Deadly bombings strike Iraq
Seven bomb explosions have killed 26 people and wounded 67 in the Iraqi capital, police and medics say, as security forces battled Sunni Muslim militants around the western cities of Falluja and Ramadi.
The bloodiest attack occurred in mainly Shi'ite Muslim Abu Dsheer district in southern Baghdad, where a car bomb near a crowded market killed seven people and wounded 18.
No group claimed responsibility for the blasts on Monday (local time). But Sunni insurgents, some of them linked to al Qaeda, are widely blamed for a surge in violence in the past year apparently aimed at undermining the Shi'ite-led government and provoking a return to all-out sectarian strife.
Al Qaeda militants and their local allies seized control of Falluja and parts of Ramadi on January 1, exploiting resentment among minority Sunnis against the government for policies perceived as unfairly penalising their once-dominant community.
Five of Monday's bombs targeted mainly Shi'ite districts of the capital, while two were in mostly Sunni areas.
Sporadic fighting flared around Falluja and Ramadi, where at least one anti-government gunman was killed and two were wounded, police said.