Coordinated bombings shattered Shia neighbourhoods and struck at Iraqi security forces on Sunday, killing at least 26 in attacks that one official described as a rallying call by al-Qaida just days after dozens of militants escaped from prison.

The blasts brought September's death toll from sectarian violence to nearly 200 people – a grim, above-average monthly total for the period since US troops left last year. The steady pace of attacks has worked to undermine confidence in the government.

"The people are fed up with the killings in Iraqi cities," said Ammar Abbas, 45, a Shia and government employee who lives in a Baghdad neighbourhood near one of the bombings. "The government officials should feel shame for letting their people die at the hands of terrorists."

Police said the wave of explosions stretched from the restive but oil-rich city of Kirkuk in the north to the southern Shia town of Kut, wounding at least 94 people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but bombings are a hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency that has been struggling for years to goad Shia militias back towards civil war.

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