A series of car bombs hit commercial areas and marketplaces in mainly Shiite areas of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, officials said.

The bombings were the latest in a campaign by Sunni militants seeking to undermine the Shiite-led government’s efforts to maintain security across the country less than two months ahead of national elections.

Violence has surged in Iraq since last year, with the country weathering its deadliest bout of violence since it pulled back from the brink of civil war in 2008. U.N. figures showed that last year, the country saw the highest death toll in attacks, with 8,868 people killed.

On April 30, Iraq is to hold its first parliamentary elections since the U.S. troops’ withdrawal in late 2011.

Wednesday’s attacks were all carried out by explosives-rigged cars parked in streets of the capital’s mainly Shiite areas. Two of the bombings rocked outdoor markets in the northern neighbourhoods of Shaab and Shula, killing four civilians in each attack, police said. At least 31 others were wounded in these blasts.

Three other civilians were killed and nine were wounded in a bombing in the south-eastern district of Zafaraniyah, police officials said. In Baghdad’s south-eastern Bayaa neighbourhood, three civilians were killed and 11 wounded, while a bombing in the crowded commercial area of Karrada, killed two civilians and wounded 12. And in the eastern Sadr City neighbourhood, one civilian was killed and three were wounded.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to media.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgents, who frequently use car bombs and suicide attacks to target public areas and government buildings in their bid to undermine confidence in the government.

Such bombings have increased, along with Sunni anger over perceived mistreatment and random arrests of Sunnis by the authorities.

More In: International | News | World