Bomb blasts and mortars killed at least nine people and wounded 28 more in Shi'ite districts in Baghdad on Tuesday, just days before Iraqis started celebrating the Islamic Eid al-Adha religious festival.
Car bombs exploded and mortars landed around the Shi'ite neighbourhood of Shula, northwestern Baghdad, killing 8 people and wounded 28, and another person was killed by a mortar round in Kadhimiya area, police and hospital sources said.
"Three car bombs exploded one after the other, and we started to hear the screaming and shouting," said a policeman who was patrolling in Shula. "Some walls of houses collapsed, and glass was shattered everywhere."
Violence in Iraq is well below the bloody peak of sectarian war in 2006-2007, but al Qaeda affiliates and other Sunni Islamist insurgents often target Shi'ites in an attempt to stoke tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite communities.
The insurgents have launched one major assault a month since U.S. troops withdrew in December. Security officials say they believe insurgents may try to carry out a large attack during the religious holiday starting on Friday.
The monthly death toll from militant attacks across Iraq doubled in September to 365, the highest figure for more than two years, with most of them killed in bomb attacks, according to government figures released this month.