Car bombs in Baghdad kill 26

Iraq

A series of car bombs in the Iraqi capital have killed at least 26 people, police and medical officials say.

Five bombs went off across Baghdad on Saturday, with three blasts reportedly taking place in less than 10 minutes.

The mostly Shia neighbourhood of Abu Dashir was hit, as were the districts of Baiyaa, Jihad and Kadhimiya.

Iraq is experiencing an upsurge in instability. The government is battling Islamist militants, who have seized cities in the country’s north-west.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Christians are fleeing the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened to kill them unless they converted to Islam or paid a “protection tax”.

The deadliest blast on Saturday hit Abu Dashir when a car bomb rammed into a police checkpoint, killing at least seven, officials said.

The later blasts killed at least 19 people. The Kadhimiya neighbourhood was hit by two separate car bombs. No group has said it carried out the attacks.

Isis militants seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June.

They have since taken over areas of the north-west and closed in on cities near Baghdad.

The current conflict in Iraq has acquired strong sectarian overtones, with disputes between the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia.

The Shia-led government is struggling against predominantly Sunni Isis fighters, and other Sunni rebel groups.