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.

 

Yemen blockade 'killing' as many civilians as war

Palestinian toddler killed in 'settler' arson attack

EU urges Israel to show 'zero tolerance for settler violence'

Pentagon denies US-trained rebels captured in Syria

Cash-strapped Tunisia's Syphax airline grounds flights

Jerusalem Gay Pride attack suspect lashes out in court

'Kurdish Obama' faces his biggest test

Morocco king calls for development of remote regions

Host of US celebrities endorses Iran nuclear deal

PKK braces for fight with Turkey in Iraq mountain bastions

Kurdish party chief dismisses Turkey anti-IS raids

Thomas Cook warns Tunisia attacks affect annual results

Three Al-Jazeera journalists await Egypt retrial verdict

Kuwait uncovers new IS cell

One Turkish police killed in attack blamed on PKK

Israel approves law allowing force feeding of prisoners

New sexist gaffe of Turkish deputy PM: 'As a woman, be quiet!

UN envoy invites Syrians to ‘thematic’ talks

Egypt's gift to the world: Suez Canal Axis

Pentagon to worried lawmakers: We will remain vigilant on Iran

Hamas calls for revolt against Palestinian Authority

ISIS claims deadly car bomb in Yemen capital

Allies tolerate Turkey's double game to boost IS fight

Somalia ‘making progress’ despite insecurity and election delay

Germany, Iraqi Kurds say Turkey should resume peace process

Syria skeptical about Turkey's intentions in fight against ISIS

Somalia indentifies hotel bomber as former German resident

US gets formal approval to use Incirlik air base in Turkey

Saudi policeman killed, 2 injured in attack

Israel PM approves 300 settler homes in occupied West Bank

Jordan jails 8 for "plotting a terrorist act"

Israel committed war crimes on 'Black Friday'

Israeli strike on Syrian town kills 5 pro-regime fighters

Yemen orders militia to merge with army

Erdogan heads for China for talks

France seeks to revive ties with Iran

Syria army, Kurds oust IS from Hasakeh city

Yemen truce has failed to take hold

Iran urged to free Washington Post journalist

UN aid chief calls for greater Syria access

Rebels gain ground near Syrian regime heartland

Cairo furniture factory fire kills 25

Javad Zarif has 'no concern' about nuclear deal

Somalia unable to hold full elections in 2016

Kuwait sentences 4 Egyptians to death for murder