BAGHDAD — Car bombs hit several mostly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and a town south of the Iraqi capital on Wednesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding dozens, officials said, the latest bout of violence ahead of the country's first parliament elections since the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but the bombings bore the hallmarks of an al-Qaida-inspired group and other Sunni insurgents, who frequently use suicide and car bombs to target public areas and government buildings in their bid to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government.
The explosions also coincided with the anniversary of the 2003 fall of Baghdad in the hands of U.S. troops.
The deadliest of the day's attacks took place in the town of Numaniyah, about 50 miles south of Baghdad, where a bomb first went off in a busy commercial area, followed by a car bomb that exploded as people gathered to help the victims from the first blast. In all, five people were killed and 17 were wounded, police said.
Earlier in the day, a car bomb in Baghdad's central Nidhal Street killed four people and wounded 11, while three people died and nine were wounded in a car bombing in the northern Kazimiyah district.
Car bombs also exploded in the areas of Shaab, Shammaiya, Karrada and Maamil, killing a total of seven people and wounding 30, police officials added.
Later Wednesday, three more civilians died and eight were wounded when another car bomb struck Baghdad's central upscale commercial area of Jadiriyah.
Medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.