At least 22 people have been killed after a series of bombs exploded in busy coffee shops and other public spaces across Iraq, police and medics have said.
In north and south Baghdad on Thursday, two blasts tore through cafes where scores of young men had gathered to watch a televised football match, killing eight people, police and medical sources said.
Two other explosions killed 10 people in coffee shops in the city of Baquba, about 50 km northeast of Baghdad, police said.
Another bomb exploded near a cafe in the town of Jbela, 65 km south of Baghdad, killing three, and a “sticky bomb” attached to a car killed a civilian in Iskandariya, 40 km south of Baghdad, police said.
Violence has grown in Iraq since the start of the year, claiming more than 1,000 people in May alone, making it the deadliest month since the sectarian turmoil of 2006-07.
Fighters, including al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate, have been recruiting from the country’s Sunni Muslim minority.
Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in Syria, which is fast spreading into a region-wide proxy war, drawing in Shia and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
The latest bombs came as Iraqis celebrated moves by the UN Security Council towards ending sanctions imposed on Baghdad more than two decades ago after former President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.