On the eve of an important Muslim festival, a series of co-ordinated bomb blasts in Iraq have claimed the lives of at least seventeen people. Muharram is massively important to Shi’ite Muslims as it marks the start of the Islamic year and so whoever carried out these bombings wanted to cause the maximum of devastation and religious offence.

Police on the roof of a girl’s secondary school in Hilla City, 60 miles south of the capital Baghdad, where a car bomb had not long exploded, out front. 6 were killed, another 42 hurt, some of them students and some visitors to the nearby poultry market. The streets crowded with onlookers and emergency services doing what they could to get the area back to normal as soon as possible.

Another car bomb exploded in Kirkuk near the offices of a Kurdish political party, police and rescuers gathered but then another bomb detonated nearby minutes later.

Five soldiers died when an army patrol was targeted in Hawija. One civilian died as a parked car exploded in the Baghdad city centre during rush hour close to two popular tourist hotels.

With security and civilians being the targets, many believe Sunni insurgents and Iraqi’s linked to Al Qaeda could most likely be the perpetrators in what looks like sectarian violence – though no-one yet has formally claimed responsibility for the callous attacks.

Written and presented by Marverine Cole.