BAGHDAD Car bombs struck two outdoor markets and a group of taxi vans in Shiite areas across Iraq on Friday, killing at least 36 people and wounding nearly 100 in the bloodiest day in more than two months, as minority Sunnis staged mass anti-government protests in a sign of mounting sectarian tensions.
Tens of thousands of Sunni protesters rallied in five major cities against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite accused of monopolizing power. Sunnis also complain of official discrimination.
Sunni protest leaders have rejected a recent call by an al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq to take up arms against the government, but there is concern militants are trying to exploit the discontent.
In the city of Samarra, rally speaker Sheik Mohammed Jumaa sent a warning to the prime minister. “Stop tyranny and oppression,” he said. “We want our rights. You will witness what other tyrants have witnessed before you.”