A wave of car bombings tore through mostly Shiite Muslim neighborhoods of the Baghdad area this afternoon, leaving at least 57 dead in the latest outburst of an unusually intense wave of bloodshed roiling Iraq, which has killed more than 300 people in the past two weeks alone. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for today's bloodshed, but the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda's Iraqi arm. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, frequently uses car bombs and coordinated blasts in an effort to undermine Iraqis' confidence in the Shiite-led government.
The blasts are the latest indication that Iraq's security is rapidly deteriorating as sectarian tensions exacerbated by months of Sunni-led anti-government protests and the war in neighboring Syria are on the rise. Although violence has decreased sharply in Iraq since the height of insurgency, militants are still capable to carry out lethal attacks nationwide. The recent wave of bloodshed has raised tensions between the country's Sunni minority and Shiite-led government. The surge in violence has been reminiscent of the sectarian carnage that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007. Alarmed by a nationwide deterioration in the security situation, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a reshuffle in senior military ranks. (Read more Islamic State of Iraq stories.)