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Associated Press
An Iraqi boy stands near a destroyed car at the scene of a car bomb attack in Shula neighborhood, Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. A string of car bomb attacks in and around Baghdad, killing and wounding scores of people, police said, deepening fears of an increase in violence as sectarian tensions simmer in Iraq. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD — A string of attacks, including three car bombings in and around Baghdad, killed at least 22 people Tuesday, deepening fears of a surge in violence as sectarian tensions fester in Iraq.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, blame is likely to fall on Sunni insurgents such as al-Qaida's local franchise for Tuesday's bloodshed. The group often uses indiscriminate attacks to sow fear among Iraq's Shiite majority and undermine the government's authority.

It was at least the fourth day this year that insurgents overcame security measures to carry out high-profile attacks claiming at least 20 lives. Over a two-day stretch alone last week, a series of what appeared to be coordinated bombings and other strikes killed nearly 60 people.

Tuesday's attacks began when a parked car exploded at a security checkpoint about 20 miles south of the Iraqi capital. The blast killed five people, including two soldiers who were manning the checkpoint, and wounded 15, according to police.

A second car bomb, this one detonated by a suicide attacker, went off near a checkpoint in the northern Baghdad suburb of Taji, killing seven people and wounding 26 more.