BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber slammed his explosive-laden car into a busy cafe in Iraq’s capital Sunday night, part of a day of violence across the country that killed 45 people, authorities said.
The bombing at the cafe in Baghdad’s primarily Shi’ite Amil neighborhood happened as it was full of customers. The cafe and a nearby juice shop is a favorite hangout in the neighborhood for young people, who filled the area at the time of the explosions.
The blast killed 35 people and wounded 45, Iraqi officials said.
Violence has been on the rise in Iraq after a deadly crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawijah in April. At least 385 have died in attacks in Iraq so far this month, according to an Associated Press count.
In a village north of Baghdad, a car bomb targeted a police officer’s house, killing his father, brother and five nephews, officials said. Six others were wounded in the blast, which happened when the officer was not at home.
Security forces meanwhile foiled an attack by five suicide bombers disguised in police uniforms who targeted the local council of the western town of Rawah , said Muthana Ismail, head of the local security committee.
Ismail said two attackers were shot while the rest blew themselves up outside. Two police officers and an official were killed, while 20 people were wounded, he said.
Rawha is about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s attacks, though car bombings and gun assaults are favorite tactics of Al Qaeda’s local branch.
It frequently targets Shi’ites, whom it considers heretics, and those seen as closely allied to the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures for all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
On Saturday, a car bomb on a commercial street in northern Baghdad killed three people. Police officials said 11 others were wounded in the capital’s Qahira neighborhood. Shops and cars were damaged.
A car bomb targeting a street full of shoppers killed six people and wounded 16 others in the Mashtal neighborhood of Baghdad on Friday. A day earlier, a wave of car bomb and suicide bomb blasts left at least 61 people dead across the country.
Officials blame Al Qaeda’s local franchise for many of the attacks, and Shi’ite civilians are among its favorite targets.
The power of Al Qaeda has soared in Iraq since US troops left in late 2011 and now looks stronger than it has in years.
The terror group has shown it is capable of carrying out mass-casualty attacks several times a month, driving the death toll in Iraq to the highest level in half a decade. It sees each attack as a way to cultivate an atmosphere of chaos that weakens the Shi’ite-led government’s authority.
Recent prison breaks have bolstered Al Qaeda’s ranks, while feelings of Sunni marginalization and the chaos caused by the civil war in neighboring Syria are fueling its comeback.