An al-Qaida front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the wave of bomb attacks that ripped through markets, cafes and government buildings in Baghdad on a single day last week, killing 69 people and raising new fears about security.

The co-ordinated attacks hit a dozen mostly Shia neighbourhoods on Thursday in what was the first major bloodshed since US troops completed a full withdrawal this month after nearly nine years of war.

The blasts also coincided with a government crisis that has again strained ties between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shias to breaking point – the same faultline that nearly pushed Iraq into all-out civil war several years ago.

The claim of responsibility made no mention of the US withdrawal. Instead, it focused on the country’s Shia-dominated leadership, which Sunni insurgents have battled since it came to power as a result of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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