05/21/2013 09:53 EDT | Updated 07/21/2013 05:12 EDT

Canadian Killed In Iraqi Violence, John Baird Expresses Concern

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Iraqis gather around burnt vehicles at the site of a car bombing at a market in Baghdad's impoverished district of Sadr City on May 16, 2013 as at least eight people were killed in blasts across the country. Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, killing more than 200 people in each of the first four months of this year. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says a Canadian is among those killed in a spate of recent sectarian violence in Iraq.

A string of attacks in the middle eastern country has killed more than 270 people in just the past week.

Baird says consular officials are in touch with the Canadian's family and are offering assistance.

He says he's grown "increasingly concerned" about the violence that has rocked Iraqi cities and towns in recent days.

Baird says while the security situation in Iraq has been fragile for years, the most recent violence is "particularly troubling" and risks plunging the country into a civil war.

He says Canada will be monitoring the situation carefully and is urging Iraqi authorities to do all they can to increase security.

Rising tensions between Sunnis and the Shiite-led government in Iraq have burst into a new round of bloodshed recently with scenes reminiscent of some of the worst carnage during the days when the two Islamic sects battled each other as well as U.S.-led forces in the chaotic years after Saddam Hussein's ouster.

The violence has raised fears the country is sliding back to the brink of civil war amid rising Sunni anger over perceived mistreatment at the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and dangerous spillover from Syria's civil war next door, where the two factions are also pitted against each other.

A series of blitz attacks on Monday, stretching from north of Baghdad to the southern city of Basra and targeting bus stops, open-air markets and rush-hour crowds, killed 113 people.

Meanwhile, 20 were killed after a car bomb exploded as Sunni worshippers were leaving a mosque after evening prayers Tuesday in Baghdad. Several smaller attacks struck areas elsewhere in the country earlier Tuesday.

— with files from the Associated Press.

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