Bombs target soccer players, spectators in Iraq

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Bombs targeting soccer players and young men who had gathered to watch a match in Iraq killed seven people on Saturday.

A roadside bomb in a busy market killed another three people, bringing the death toll to 10, police and medics said.

The violence is part of a trend of increasing militant attacks since the start of the year, which claimed more than1,000 lives in May alone, making it the deadliest month since the sectarian bloodletting of 2006-7.

In recent days, men playing in local soccer fixtures and watching matches have been the targets - after spates of attacks on both Sunni and Shi’ite mosques and the security forces.

The reason behind the attacks on soccer players and spectators is not clear.

Police and medics said the bomb was planted inside a coffee shop in central Baghdad and killed four young men who had gathered to watch an under 20s international match between Iraq and Chile on television.

Twin roadside bombs exploded near a soccer stadium, killing three players in Muqdadiya, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of the capital, and the blast in the market left a further three people dead in a town west of Baghdad, police said.

Earlier this week, twin blasts at a neighborhood football stadium killed five players and two blasts tore through cafes where scores of young men had gathered to watch another match, killing eight people.

Concerns that Iraq may lapse back into full-scale sectarian conflict have mounted in recent months amid tensions fuelled by the civil war in neighboring Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow a leader backed by Shi’ite Iran.

Sunni insurgents including al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate have been regaining ground, recruiting from the country’s Sunni minority, which resents Shi’ite domination since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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