STORY: Iraqi Sunni Muslims observed the first day of the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, gathering at mosques at dawn for prayers, praying to God for an end to the daily bombings and attacks that plague their country.

The prayers were performed under heavy security with police guarding entrance to mosques, blocking roads and body-searching people entering.

Iraqis have been avoiding public places like cafes and busy markets, fearing bombs and suicide attacks. After an easing of violence in the past few years led places to reopen, many cafes have now closed again after losing customers.

Iraqis have endured extreme violence for years, but since the start of 2013 the intensity of attacks on civilians has dramatically increased, reversing a trend that had seen the country grow more peaceful.

Attacks have spread to some of the few places left for public entertainment, turning Baghdad into a giant fortified prison of concrete blast walls, where once again few now dare to socialize in public.

The attacks have raised fears of a return to full-blown sectarian conflict in a country where ruling Shi'ites and minority Sunni Muslims and Kurds have yet to find a stable way of sharing power.