BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bombs exploded in busy coffee shops and at other targets across Iraq late on Thursday, killing at least 22 people, police and medics said.
In north and south Baghdad, 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 (30 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police said.
Another bomb exploded near a cafe in the town of Jbela, 65 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, killing three, and a “sticky bomb” attached to a car killed a civilian in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) 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 bloodletting of 2006-07.
Insurgents, including al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate, have been recruiting from the country’s Sunni Muslim minority, which feels sidelined following the U.S.-led invasion that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein and empowered majority Shi‘ites.
Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in Syria, which is fast spreading into a region-wide proxy war, drawing in Shi‘ite and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.
The latest bombs struck as Iraqis celebrated moves by the U.N. Security Council towards ending sanctions imposed on Baghdad more than two decades ago after former President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.
(This story removes details of football match in paragraph 2)
Reporting by Kareem Raheem in Baghdad, Ali al-Rubaie in Hilla and a Reuters reporter in Baquba; Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; Editing by Andrew Roche