Iraq: String of car bombs go off in Baghdad, killing scores

A number of explosives-packed cars were set off all over the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Monday, killing dozens of people, according to reports

The death toll was not immediately clear. Local medical officials told the Associated Press the blasts killed a total of 39 people, a figure also cited by Reuters, while Al Jazeera had 17 dead and 79 wounded. 

Police sources told Al Jazeera the violence was concentrated in Shia areas of the capital. Shias are in the midst of Shaabaniya, a festival honoring the the birth of Imam Mehdi, a pivotal figure for the Muslim sect.

Violence has been surging in Iraq in recent months, with 1,000 people killed in the country in the month of May alone, reported Reuters.

Because of this, Iran's Press TV said as many as 40,000 Iraqi soldiers had been deployed in Karbala, which is southeast of Baghdad and has a major Shiite shrine, to protect pilgrims headed there for the Shaabaniya festival. 

According to the AP, the Baghdad neighborhoods targeted on Monday were Karada, Jihad, Nahrawan, New Baghdad, and Garage Al Amana. 

There was also violence reported in the nearby city of Mosul and in Tikrit, said the AP