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Violence has soared in Iraq since the last U.S. troops left the country Dec. 18 after nine years of war. Most of the latest attacks appear to be aimed at Iraq‘s majority Shiites, suggesting Sunni insurgents seeking to undermine the Shiite-dominated government are to blame.

More than 145 people have been killed in attacks since the start of the year.

On Saturday, a bomb tore through a procession of Shiite pilgrims heading toward the largely Sunni town of Zubair in southern Iraq, killing at least 53 people and wounding at least 130 other in the latest sign of a power struggle between rival Muslim sects.

Associated Press writers Barbara Surk and Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.