Four car bombs struck Shiite mosques during Friday prayers in Baghdad and the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least four people and wounding more than 80, officials said.
The blasts all struck within an hour of each other from around 1:00 pm in the Baghdad neighbourhoods of Jihad, Qahira and Zafraniyah, as well as in an area of south Kirkuk.
In the deadliest attack, three people were killed and 70 wounded by a car bomb in southern Kirkuk city, near the al-Rasul al-Aadham mosque, according to Sadiq Omar Rasul, chief of the provincial health directorate.
The blasts in Baghdad, meanwhile, left at least one dead and 18 wounded, security and medical officials said.
Gearing up for polls
The attacks come amid a spike in violence nationwide as the country prepares for its first elections in three years - provincial polls that will be held in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces on April 20.
Questions have been raised over the credibility of those polls as elections have been postponed in two provinces roiled by months of protests, and at least 11 candidates have been killed, according to an AFP tally.
While no group immediately claimed the attacks, Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda frequently target Shiite Muslims whom they regard as apostates and supporters of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
Violence is down from its peak in 2006 and 2007 but attacks remain common - at least 245 people have been killed this month, already more than in February, according to an AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials.AFP