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A wave of bombings targeting Shias in Iraq killed 72 people on Thursday, deepening sectarian tensions that exploded just after the last American troops left the country in December.

The coordinated attacks targeting Shias bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaida, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The bombings began early in the morning when explosions struck two Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 27 people.

A few hours later, a suicide attack hit Shia pilgrims heading to the holy Shia city of Karbala, killing 45, said provincial official Quosay al-Abadi.

The explosions took place near Nasiriyah, about 320 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. Hospital officials confirmed the causalities.

The blasts occurred in the run-up to Arbaeen, a Shia holy day which marks the end of 40 days of mourning that follow the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered Shia figure.

Baghdad military spokesman Maj Gen Qassim al-Moussawi said the aim is “to create turmoil among the Iraqi people.”

IT

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