A wave of attacks killed at least 79 people in Shiite and Sunni areas of Iraq on Monday, officials said, pushing the death toll over the past week to more than 200 and extending one of the most sustained bouts of sectarian violence the country has seen in years.
The bloodshed is still far shy of the pace, scale and brutality of the dark days of 2006-2007, when Sunni and Shiite militias carried out retaliatory attacks against each other in a cycle of violence that left the country awash in blood. Still, Monday's attacks, some of which hit markets and crowded bus stops during the morning rush hour, have heightened fears that the country could be turning back down the path toward civil war.
Sectarian tensions have been worsening since Iraq's minority Sunnis began protesting what they say is mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government. The mass demonstrations, which began in December, have largely been peaceful, but the number of attacks rose sharply after a deadly security crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23.