First Published: 2013-05-01

 

Maliki government fails again: Violence in Iraq rises sharply in April

 

Violence in Iraq rises sharply in April, with 460 people killed according to figures, raising fears of return to all-out sectarian conflict.

 

Middle East Online

By W.G. Dunlop – BAGHDAD

Iraqis left to their grief, and fears

Violence in Iraq rose sharply in April, with 460 people killed according to figures, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that plagued the country in past years.

The majority of the deaths came during a wave of unrest that began on April 23 when security forces moved on Sunni anti-government protesters near the northern Sunni Arab town of Hawijah, sparking clashes that killed 53 people.

Dozens more people died in subsequent violence that included revenge attacks on security forces.

The demonstrations erupted in Sunni areas of Shiite-majority Iraq more than four months ago.

Protesters have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and railed against authorities for allegedly targeting their community with wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

Unrest in April also wounded 1,219 people, according to figures, which are based on reports from security and medical sources.

Among the dead in April were 54 police, 53 soldiers, 14 Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen, and two members of the Kurdish security forces.

The wounded included 171 police, 76 soldiers, eight Sahwa fighters and five Kurdish security forces members.

The majority of the rest of those killed and wounded in April were civilians, although the figures also include some gunmen who were killed in fighting with security forces.

In March, 271 people were killed and 906 wounded in violence, though that number only included security forces and civilians.

The month of May got off to a bloody start, with a suicide bomber killing five people Wednesday when he targeted Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, while a car bomb in the Iraqi capital left three more dead, security and medical officials said.

"Conditions have definitely worsened in the country," said John Drake, an Iraq specialist with risk consulting firm AKE Group.

"If the government fails to contain the unrest and address some of the grievances of the protesters, the momentum could certainly build and lead to a reemergence of widespread violence," he said.

The wave of unrest at the end of April raised fears in Iraq of a return to the bloody Sunni-Shiite violence that left tens of thousands of people dead in 2007-08.

Maliki warned of "those who want to take the country back to sectarian civil war," and also said that sectarian strife "came back to Iraq because it began in another place in this region," an apparent reference to Syria.

The civil war in neighbouring Syria pitting mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam, has killed more than 70,000 people.

Abdulghafur al-Samarraie and Saleh al-Haidari, top clerics who respectively head the Sunni and Shiite religious endowments, meanwhile held a joint news conference in which they warned against sectarian strife.

Samarraie said there were "malicious plans... with the goal of taking the country towards sectarian conflict."

Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak during the peak of the sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, when death tolls of over 1,000 a month were reported.

But attacks remain common, with people killed on 29 of the 30 days in April, and more than 200 people dead in unrest each month so far this year.

 

Saudi Crown Prince calls Iran supreme leader 'new Hitler'

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’