Baghdad: A wave of at least 14 bombings ripped across Baghdad on Thursday morning, killing at least 60 people in the worst violence Iraq has seen for months.
The apparently coordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left Iraq and in the midst of a major government crisis between the country's top Shiite and Sunni political leaders that has sent sectarian tensions soaring.
The bombings may be linked more to the US withdrawal than the political crisis, but all together the developments heighten fears of a new round of sectarian bloodshed like the one a few years ago that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bombings bore all the hallmarks of an attack by the Sunni insurgents of al Qaeda. Most of the violence appeared to hit Shiite neighborhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted.
In all, 11 neighborhoods were hit by either car bombs, roadside blasts or sticky bombs attached to cars. At least one of the attacks was a suicide bombing and the blasts went off over several hours.
The worst blast was in the Karrada neighborhood, where a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption.
Two police officers at the scene said the bomber was driving an ambulance and told guards that he needed to get to a nearby hospital. After the guards let him through, he drove to the building where he blew himself up, the officers said.
Sirens wailed as ambulances rushed to the scene and a large plume of smoke rose over the area. The blast left a crater about five yards (meters) wide in front of the five-story building, which was singed and blackened.