A wave of car bombings tore through mostly Shia Muslim neighbourhoods of the Baghdad area on Monday afternoon, leaving at least 57 dead.

Iraq has been hit by a wave of bloodshed that has killed more than 300 people in the past two weeks alone.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda’s Iraqi arm, the Islamic State of Iraq, which frequently uses car bombs and coordinated blasts in an effort to undermine Iraqis’ confidence in the Shia-led government.

The recent wave of bloodshed has raised tensions between the country’s Sunni minority and Shia-led government. The surge in violence has been reminiscent of the sectarian carnage in 2006 and 2007. Alarmed by a nationwide deterioration in the security situation, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a reshuffle in senior military ranks. — AFP