Another bloody day in Iraq as political deadlock lingers
Wave of car bombs, shootings, mostly targeting Shiites, kill 25
people as Iraq grapples with prolonged political deadlock.
Middle East Online
By Ahmed al-Rubaye – BAGHDAD
Death toll rises
A wave of car bombs and shootings, mostly targeting Shiites,
killed 25 people Sunday as Iraq grapples with a spike in violence
and prolonged political deadlock, sparking fears of all-out
In all, at least 10 vehicles rigged with explosives went off in eight
cities in Iraq's Shiite Muslim-majority south during morning rush
hour, leaving around 100 people wounded, while the main
northern city of Mosul witnessed a deadly shooting.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but
Sunni militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda frequently target Shiites,
whom they regard as apostates, in coordinated attacks.
Car bombs went off in Kut, Aziziyah, Nasiriyah, Basra,
Mahmudiyah, Madain, Jbela and Najaf, officials said.
In Kut, provincial capital of Wasit and 160 kilometres (100 miles)
south of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in
an industrial area packed with vehicle repair garages, killing
seven people and wounding 15.
Another car bomb in nearby Aziziyah in the town's main
marketplace and near a Shiite mosque killed five and wounded 10.
"The cafe and the street outside is covered in blood," said Hisham
Shadhan, whose father owns a cafe badly hit in the Aziziyah attack.
"The car was parked just next to the cafe and when it went off, it
destroyed the front part of the cafe. Many cars have caught fire,
and it also caused huge damage to nearby shops."
The force of the blast overturned cars and left shrapnel strewn
across the scene, but authorities quickly cleaned up much of the
visible damage, a journalist said.
Twin blasts in the southern port city of Basra killed five people, i
ncluding a bomb disposal expert looking to defuse one of the
Five others were killed and dozens more wounded in bombings
in Nasiriyah, Mahmudiyah, Najaf, Madain and Jbela.
Early Sunday, three policemen were shot dead near the main
northern city of Mosul, which is primarily Sunni Arab.
The violence was the latest in a spike in attacks nationwide, with last
month registering the highest death toll since 2008, sparking fears
of a return to the all-out sectarian war that blighted Iraq in 2006
There has been a heightened level of unrest since the beginning
of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among the Sunni
Arab minority that erupted into protests in late December.
Analysts say a lack of effort by the Shiite-led authorities to address
the underlying causes of the demonstrations has given militant
groups fuel and room to manoeuvre to carry out their activities.
Political leaders have pledged to resolve a multitude of longstanding
disputes and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has met with his two
chief rivals, the Sunni parliament speaker and the Kurdish regional
president, in a bid to ease tensions, but no tangible moves have
Analysts and diplomats have voiced fears the stalemate could
persist through to parliamentary elections next year.
The outgoing UN envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has warned the
violence is "ready to explode".