Two car bombs exploded in the predominantly Shi'ite southern oil hub of Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad, killing at least 11 people early on Monday (May 20), police and medics said.

The first bomb struck the Hananiya neighborhood, near a busy market and restaurants, and the second was detonated inside a bus terminal in Saad Square.

The blasts come amid an upsurge of violence in Iraq.

Eight car bombs in mainly Shi'ite districts of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killed at least 20 people on Monday, police and medics said.

Tensions between minority Sunni Muslims and Shi'ites who now lead Iraq are at their highest since U.S. troops pulled out in 2011, with relations coming under more strain by the day from the increasingly sectarian conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Scores of people have been killed in attacks over the past week, prompting warnings of a return to all-out sectarian civil conflict.

Monthly death tolls are well below those of 2006-07, when they sometimes topped 3,000, but more than 700 were killed in April, according to a U.N. count, the highest figure in almost five years.

Presented by Adam Justice