BAGHDAD

Coordinated car bombings put Ramadan toll above 230

A coordinated wave of car bombings tore through commercial streets in Baghdad on Saturday night, killing more than 30 and wounding dozens as insurgents kept up a relentless offensive during the holy month of Ramadan.

The blasts struck in Shiite Muslim areas of the Iraqi capital. Although there was no claim of responsibility, coordinated bombings against Shiites are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida’s Iraq branch.

The explosions were all caused by car bombs timed to go off after the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast when many people are out shopping or relaxing in coffee shops, police said.

Bombings and other attacks have killed more than 230 people since the start of Ramadan on July 10. The violence is a continuation of a surge of bloodshed that has been rocking Iraq for months, reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

ISTANBUL

Wedding crowd dispersed with water cannon, tear gas

Police on Saturday fired water cannon and tear gas in downtown Istanbul to disperse anti-government demonstrators after barring them from entering a park where they had hoped to celebrate the wedding of a couple who met during last month’s widespread protests.

The clash occurred after police closed Gezi Park near Istanbul’s landmark Taksim Square, then forced demonstrators to a pedestrian street and fired the water cannon, according to the private Dogan news agency. Police also chased some protesters down side streets and fired tear gas, according to the websites of Radikal and Hurriyet newspapers. No casualties were immediately reported.

The newly married couple and hundreds of protesters were later allowed into Gezi Park, where photographs were taken. But the crowd was soon again forced out of the park, apparently after it began to chant anti-government slogans. 

— From news service reports