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— A string of attacks, including three car bombings in and around Baghdad, killed at least 22 people Tuesday, deepening fears of a surge in violence as sectarian tensions fester in Iraq.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, blame is likely to fall on Sunni insurgents such as al-Qaida’s local franchise for Tuesday’s bloodshed. The group often uses indiscriminate attacks to sow fear among Iraq’s Shiite majority and undermine the government’s authority.

It was at least the fourth day this year that insurgents overcame security measures to carry out high-profile attacks claiming at least 20 lives. Over a two-day stretch alone last week, a series of what appeared to be coordinated bombings and other strikes killed nearly 60 people.

The upsurge in violence has coincided with a wave of Sunni-led protests against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government over what they see as unfair treatment of their sect.

Tuesday’s attacks began when a parked car exploded at a security checkpoint in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of the Iraqi capital. The blast killed five people, including two soldiers who were manning the checkpoint, and wounded 15, according to police.

A second car bomb, this one detonated by a suicide attacker, went off near a checkpoint in the northern Baghdad suburb of Taji, killing seven people and wounding 26.

Later in the day, another parked car loaded with explosives blew up in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Shula in northwestern Baghdad, killing five and wounding 15, police said. The blast left several cars charred and mangled.

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