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Al-Qaida claims responsibility for deadly attacks in Iraq during Muslim holiday

Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq has claimed responsibility for attacks that killed 69 people during the Muslim holiday following the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Saturday's attacks targeted mostly cafes and busy marketplaces. They were the latest in a wave of bloodshed that has swept Iraq since April, killing more than 3,000 people and worsening already strained ties between Iraq's Sunni minority and the Shiite-led government.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — as Iraq's al-Qaida affiliate is known — said in a statement on the Internet late on Sunday that the bombings were in retaliation for the arrests of hundreds of Muslims by Iraqi security forces.

The authenticity of the statement could not be independently confirmed but it appeared on a website commonly used by militants.