Attacks in Iraq kill over 40, sectarian tensions high

BAGHDAD, Iraq Tue May 21, 2013 5:21pm EDT

1 of 4. Onlookers gather outside Zain al-Abideen mosque, a Shiite place of worship, to inspect damage a day after a suicide bomb attack in Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad May 21, 2013. Eleven people were killed by a car bomb and a suicide bomber in Hilla, police and medics said. Both attacks occurred near the mosque and an outdoor market.

Credit: Reuters/Habib (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - A series of bomb and gun attacks across Iraq killed more than 40 people on Tuesday, a day after over 70 died in violence targeting majority Shi'ites that has stoked fears of all-out sectarian war with minority Sunnis.

Nearly 300 people have been killed in the past week as sectarian tensions, fuelled by the civil war in neighboring Syria, threaten to plunge Iraq back into communal bloodletting.

Ten years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds have yet to find a stable power-sharing deal and violence is again on the upswing.

In the biggest single incident on Tuesday, a car bomb exploded near a Sunni mosque in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad killing 11 people and wounding 21, police and medics said.

"I heard a powerful bang and a fireball near the main gate of the mosque," said Uday Raheem, a policeman whose patrol was stationed near the mosque.

"We held back a while fearing a second explosion and then rushed to the blast location. The bodies of worshippers were scattered and some were shouting for help. bleeding to death."

Another bomb outside a cafe in the Doura district of southern Baghdad killed six more and wounded 18.

In Diyala province northeast of the capital, at least eight people, including two policemen, were killed in bombs and shootings, and in Kanaan, also to the northeast, two roadside bombs detonated in quick succession claiming three lives.

In the north of the country, three roadside bombs exploded near a livestock market in the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, killing six people and shredding the bodies of humans and animals alike.

Mahmoud Jumaa, whose cousin was killed in the multiple bombings, appeared bewildered by their random nature.

"I heard the explosions, but never thought this place would be targeted since these animals have nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with sect, nothing to do with ethnicity or religion," he said.

Kirkuk is in a disputed oil-rich swathe of Iraq claimed both by the Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad and ethnic Kurds who run their own autonomous administration in the north.

Two car bomb blasts killed three people in a residential part of the town of Tuz Khurmato, also in the disputed area.

North of Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed three soldiers at a checkpoint in Tarmiya, police and medics said, and in Khalis gunmen broke into a house and killed and man and his wife, both of them Sunni Muslims.

The conflict in Syria, where mostly Sunni rebels are fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, is turning in part into a regional proxy war between Sunni and Shi'ite powers.

Lebanon's Iranian-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah group is now openly fighting alongside Assad's forces, which are dominated by members of his minority Shi'ite-linked Alawite sect.

Iraq's Sunnis who resent their treatment by Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government have staged mass protests since December. Sunni militants, some of them linked to al Qaeda, have exploited the unrest, urging Sunnis to take up arms.

More than 700 people died violently in April, according to the United Nations, the highest monthly figure in almost five years. Iraq suffered a frenzy of Sunni-Shi'ite violence in 2006-07, when monthly death tolls sometimes topped 3,000.

(Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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Comments (5)
Radek.kow1 wrote:
It’s such madness it is really hard to imagine. Countries with muslims in them bleed all over the globe, from Burma to Nigeria – open conflict is almost everywhere. Should the rest of the world continue staring or just accept it as a day-to-day business in muslim countries?

I really pity those people living in Muslim countries. They will become the poorest areas of the world, despite all the natural resources they have.

May 21, 2013 5:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Doc62 wrote:
The Muslim sectarian conflicts are getting tiring. Sorry for the deaths and be glad we STAY OUT OF IT! Hutus vs Tutsis and million died?
“What do you expect from a people of low culture” -Mitt Romney
and you sympathizers wonder how Hamas can’t hit the broad side of a barn with hundreds of missiles? They only know how to hit their women and children, too bad.

May 21, 2013 6:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
this is the way those jerks like it, the U.S. just spent how many billions and how many young lives to help these idiots they like the way they live, it’s been their way for hundreds of years and it won’t change

May 21, 2013 7:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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