BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bomb attacks in mainly Shi'ite Muslim areas of Iraq killed at least 73 people and wounded scores on Thursday, police and hospital sources said, raising fears of an increase in sectarian strife.
The biggest attack was beside a police checkpoint west of Nassiriya in the south, where a suicide bomber targeting Shi'ite pilgrims killed 44 people and wounded 81, Sajjad al-Asadi, head of the provincial security committee in Nassiriya, told Reuters
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki created the worst political crisis in a year on December 19 when he sought the removal of two senior Sunni politicians, a day after the last U.S. troops left Iraq. On December 22, bombs in predominately Shi'ite parts of Iraq's capital killed 72.
Maliki asked parliament to have his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq removed and sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges he ran death squads.
On Tuesday, members of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc boycotted the parliament and cabinet, accusing Maliki's bloc of governing alone in a power-sharing coalition that was supposed to ease sectarian tension.