At least 68 dead in clashes across Iraq.

As “members of a messianic cult and Iraqi troops” continued fighting for a second day, the death toll “in two predominantly Shiite southern cities rose from 50 to at least 68“:

Iraqi authorities said at least 36 people were reported killed in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, and at least 32 in Nasiriyah, including Iraqi security forces, civilians and gunmen. At least 10 people were reported slain in Nasiriyah Friday.

There was also “a deadly bombing in northern Iraq.” The AP describes the violence of the past two days as part of “a series of recent high-profile attacks” that are “eroding the security gains of the previous six months.”