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Bombs targeting playground, cafe, school kill 22 in Iraq

A man inspects the damage at a cafe in Balad on Tuesday, following a suicide bombing on Monday evening. Karim Kadim / AP

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A series of bomb attacks killed at least 22 people across Iraq on Monday, part of the country's worst wave of violence in around five years. 

At least 16 people died and 41 others were injured when a suicide bomber targeted a crowded cafe in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Two roadside bombs - one planted near a playground and another near a school - also killed six people and wounded dozens, some of them children, in the town of Muqdadiya, 50 miles northeast of the capital. 

Those blasts underlined a shift in tactics by suspected Islamist militants, who are increasingly targeting not only military checkpoints and marketplaces, but also cafes and recreational areas used by families and children. 

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The latest bloodshed came as al Qaeda claimed responsibility for weekend bombings across Iraq which killed dozens of people during Eid al-Fitr, the festive end to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, heightening fears of even wider sectarian slaughter. 

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), formed earlier this year through a merger of al Qaeda's affiliates in Syria and Iraq, said on jihadist forums it was behind the attacks across Baghdad and southern provinces on Saturday. 

It also warned the government to stop arresting suspected militants or face more violence. 

"The Islamic State deployed some of its security efforts in Baghdad and the southern province and other places to deliver a quick message," ISIL said, according to the SITE Monitoring group, which tracks jihadist websites. 

Bombs ripped through markets, shopping streets and parks late on Saturday as Iraqi families were out celebrating Eid. Nearly 80 people were killed and scores wounded, police and medical sources said. 

It has been one of the deadliest Ramadan holidays in years in Iraq, where Sunni Islamist militants are waging an insurgency against the Shiite-led government. 

July had the highest monthly death toll from attacks since 2008, with more than 1,000 Iraqis killed, according to United Nations statistics. 

The renewed violence prompted a statement from Washington condemning the attacks and offering to work closely with Baghdad to confront al Qaeda and other groups. 

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