BAGHDAD — A coordinated wave of seven car bombs tore through bustling commercial streets Saturday night in Shiite areas of Baghdad, part of a burst of violence that killed at least 46 people inside and beyond the capital.
The car bombs detonated after the iftar meal that breaks the daily fast of the holy month of Ramadan. Many people shop or relax in coffee shops in the cooler evenings after fasting ends.
Bombings and other attacks have killed more than 250 people since the start of Ramadan on July 10, according to an Associated Press count. There was no immediate claim of responsibility Saturday, but coordinated bombings against Shiites are a favored tactic of al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch.
The blasts began with an explosion on a busy shopping street that shook buildings in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada, killing nine people.
Similar car bombs struck the northwestern Tobchi district, killing eight, and Bayaa in western Baghdad, killing three. Another blast struck Zafaraniyah in southeastern Baghdad, killing six.
Two separate car bombs exploded in the New Baghdad neighborhood in the southeast, killing five people. Yet another car bomb exploded in a Shiite part of the religiously mixed western neighborhood of Shurta, killing four.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official who was not authorized to speak publicly to journalists, said the coordinated nature of the car bombings strongly indicated al-Qaeda was responsible.
Hours before the Baghdad blasts, gunmen in pickup trucks shot and killed the leader of a local Sunni militia opposed to al-Qaeda and two of his bodyguards near the city of Baqubah, the provincial capital of Diyala, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, according to police.
The leader, Bassem Mahmoud, headed a Sunni group known as Sahwa, or “Awakening,” which joined the fight against al-Qaeda at the height of the Iraq war.
In other violent incidents, another Sahwa member was killed, along with four others, when a bomb went off late Saturday near his house in Madain, 14 miles southeast of Baghdad. In the restive northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a military post, killing a woman.
Police provided details of all of the attacks, while hospital officials confirmed the death tolls.