In Iraq, four car bombings in Baghdad have left at least 21 people dead.
The attacks in the Iraqi capital coincided with a visit by UN chief Ban Ki-moon during which he expressed concern over Iraq’s spiralling bloodshed and urged Iraq’s leaders to deal with its underlying causes.
As yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the latest string of bombings but the violence comes as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki battles to contain Islamist militants in the west of the country.
Thousands of people have already reportedly fled Fallujah, as government troops prepare to launch a major military offensive to retake the predominantly Sunni city.
Earlier this week, the UN warned of a critical humanitarian crisis in Iraq’s western Anbar region amid growing fears that Iraq could tip back into a sectarian war. That slide is largely being blamed on the war in Syria which is said to be inflaming instability across the region.
The UN also said 2013 was Iraq’s bloodiest in five years, with nearly 9,000 people killed.