Al-Qaida in Iraq claims responsibility for Monday's attacks that killed 55

Al-Qaida's local franchise in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a string of car bombings in Baghdad that killed 55 people.

In a statement posted late Monday hours after the bombings that mostly targeted Shiite neighborhoods, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant says the attacks were in retaliation to the "arrests, torturing and targeting of Sunnis" by the Shiite-led government.

Monday's coordinated attacks were the latest in a months-long surge of violence that brings Iraq closer to the level of sectarian bloodshed it underwent in 2006-2007. More than 4,500 people have been killed since April.

The authenticity of the statement could not be independently confirmed. It was posted on a website commonly used by jihadists and its style was consistent with earlier al-Qaida statements.