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Wave of attacks kills at least 95 in Iraq

May. 20, 2013 - 04:37PM   |  
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Deadliest attacks in Iraq since U.S. troop pullout

Here is a look at the deadliest attacks in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. troops on Dec. 18, 2011:
* May 20, 2013: A wave of attacks, some at markets and rush hour crowds, hour killed at least 86 people in Shiite and Sunni areas.
* May 18, 2013: Shootings and bombings kill at least 16 people including an anti-terrorism police captain and his family.
* May 17, 2013: Bombs rip through Sunni areas in Baghdad and surrounding areas, killing at least 76 people.
* May 16, 2013: Car bombs hit Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad and attacks elsewhere in the country leave 21 people dead.
* May 15, 2013: A car bomb goes off near a bus station in Baghdad’s main Shiite district, the deadliest of explosions that killed at least 33 people nationwide.
* May 14, 2013: A convoy of gunmen open fire on a row of liquor stores in eastern Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding five others.
* April 29, 2013: A wave of car bomb blasts tear through Shiite areas south of Baghdad, killing at least 36.
* April 25, 2013: More than 40 people were reported killed in fighting in the key northern city of Mosul.
* April 24, 2013: Clashes between the army and armed Sunni tribesmen who sealed off a central Iraqi town kill 22 people.
* April 23, 2013: Security forces storm a Sunni protest camp in the north, sparking deadly clashes in several towns, which combined with other attacks left 56 people dead.
* April 18, 2013: A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Baghdad cafe crowded with young people, killing 32
* April 15, 2013: At least 36 are killed in string of attacks across the country ahead of elections.
* April 6, 2013: A suicide bomber blows himself up at a lunch hosted by a Sunni candidate ahead of regional elections, killing 20 people.
* Mar. 19, 2013: Insurgents carry out a wave of bombings that kills at least 65 people on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion. An al-Qaida in Iraq front group claimed responsibility.
* Mar. 14, 2013: Militants unleash a carefully planned assault on the Justice Ministry, killing 30.
* Mar. 4, 2013: Gunmen attack a convoy of Syrian soldiers who had crossed into Iraq for refuge, killing 48.
* Feb. 17, 2013: Car bombs tear through shopping areas in Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 37.
* Jan. 23, 2013: A suicide bomber strikes a packed funeral ceremony at a Shiite mosque in northern Iraq, killing at least 25.
* Jan. 17, 2013: Insurgents unleash a string of bomb attacks mainly targeting Shiite Muslim pilgrims across Iraq, killing at least 26.
* Jan. 16, 2013: A wave of bombings against the offices of a major Kurdish party and Kurdish security forces headquarters in Kirkuk province kills at least 33.
* Nov. 27, 2012: Insurgents launch attacks against Shiite mosques, security forces, and other targets in central and northern Iraq, killing at least 30.
* Nov. 6, 2012: A suicide bomber detonates his explosives-laden car near a military base north of Baghdad, killing at least 33.
* Sept. 9, 2012: Insurgents gun down soldiers at an army post, bomb police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs, and stage other attacks that kill 92.
* Aug. 16, 2012: A blistering string of bombings and shootings across the country kills at least 93.
* July 23, 2012: Attacks aimed largely at security forces kill 115 in the country’s deadliest single day in two years.
* July 3, 2012: Bombs pound six cities and towns, killing some 40 and raising suspicion that security forces may be assisting attacks on Shiites.
* June 28, 2012: Bombings and shootings take the lives of 22 people in attacks in Shiite neighborhoods and on security forces.
* June 16, 2012: Two car bombs kill at least 26 people in the capital on the final day of the Shiite pilgrimage.
* June 13, 2012: Car bombs target an annual Shiite pilgrimage, killing 72 people in 16 separate explosions.
* June 4, 2012: A suicide car bomb hits Iraq’s main religious affairs office for Shiite Muslims, shearing off the facade of the three-story building and killing at least 23 people.
* April 19, 2012: Bombs rip through 10 Iraqi cities, killing at least 30 and shattering a month of relative calm. Al-Qaida later says the attacks aimed to punish the Shiite-led government and its allies.
* March 20, 2012: Insurgents bent on derailing an Arab League meeting in Baghdad kill 46 in attacks on Shiite pilgrims in the holy city of Karbala, firebombings in Kirkuk, and strikes on security and government officials around the country.
* March 5, 2012: Assailants waving al-Qaida’s battle flag gun down 25 policemen in a brazen, well-orchestrated attack in Haditha, challenging government control over the town in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated west.
* Feb. 23, 2012: Attackers kill at least 55 as car bombs go off near an elementary school in the town of Musayyib, a restaurant in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, and various checkpoints and secure areas.
* Feb. 19, 2012: A suicide bomber detonates his car as a group of police recruits leave their academy in eastern Baghdad, killing 20.
* Jan. 28, 2012: A suicide car bomber strikes a Shiite funeral procession, killing 33 in southwestern Baghdad.
* Jan. 14, 2012: A bomb tears through a procession of Shiite pilgrims in southern Iraq, killing at least 53.
* Jan. 5, 2012: Coordinated bombings target Shiite Muslims, killing 78 in Baghdad and near the southern city of Nasiriyah, just days before a Shiite holy.
* Dec. 22, 2011: Attackers hit markets, cafes and government buildings in mostly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad, killing 69.
— AP

BAGHDAD — A wave of attacks killed at least 95 people in Shiite and Sunni areas of Iraq on Monday, officials said, pushing the death toll over the past week to more than 240 and extending one of the most sustained bouts of sectarian violence the country has seen in years.

The bloodshed is still far shy of the pace, scale and brutality of the dark days of 2006-2007, when Sunni and Shiite militias carried out retaliatory attacks against each other in a cycle of violence that left the country awash in blood. Still, Monday’s attacks, some of which hit markets and crowded bus stops during the morning rush hour, have heightened fears that the country could be turning back down the path toward civil war.

Sectarian tensions have been worsening since Iraq’s minority Sunnis began protesting what they say is mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government. The mass demonstrations, which began in December, have largely been peaceful, but the number of attacks rose sharply after a deadly security crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23.

Iraq’s Shiite majority, which was oppressed under the late dictator Saddam Hussein, now holds the levers of power in the country. Wishing to rebuild the nation rather than revert to open warfare, they have largely restrained their militias over the past five years or so as Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaida have targeted them with occasional large-scale attacks.

But the renewed violence in both Shiite and Sunni areas since late last month has fueled concerns of a return to sectarian warfare. Monday marked the deadliest day in Iraq in more than 20 months, and raised the nationwide death toll since last Wednesday alone to more than 240 people, according to an AP count.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused militant groups of trying to exploit Iraq’s political instability to exacerbate sectarian tensions at home, and blamed the recent spike in violence on the wider unrest in the region, particularly in neighboring Syria. At the same time, he pledged Monday that insurgents “will not be able to bring back the atmosphere of the sectarian war.”

Many Sunnis here contend that much of the country’s current turmoil is rooted in decisions made by al-Maliki’s government, saying his administration planted the seeds for more sectarian tension by becoming more aggressive toward Sunnis after the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011.

The worst of Monday’s violence took place in Baghdad, where 10 car bombs ripped through open-air markets and other areas of Shiite neighborhoods, killing at least 48 people and wounding more than 150, police officials said. In the bloodiest attack, a parked car bomb blew up in a busy market in the northern Shiite neighborhood of Shaab, killing 14 and wounding 24, police and health officials said.

The surge in bloodshed has exasperated Iraqis, who have lived for years with the fear and uncertainty bred of random violence.

“How long do we have to continue living like this, with all the lies from the government?” asked 23-year-old Baghdad resident Malik Ibrahim. “Whenever they say they have reached a solution, the bombings come back stronger than before.”

“We’re fed up with them and we can’t tolerate this anymore,” he added.

The predominantly Shiite city of Basra in southern Iraq was also hit Monday, with two car bombs there — one outside a restaurant and another at the city’s main bus station — killing at least 13 and wounded 40, according to provincial police spokesman Col. Abdul-Karim al-Zaidi and the head of city’s health directorate, Riadh Abdul-Amir.

A parked car bomb later struck Shiite worshippers as they were leaving a mosque in the southern city of Hillah, killing nine and wounding 26, according to police and health officials said.

In the town of Balad, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims, killing 13 Iranians and one Iraqi, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but the fact that they all occurred in Shiite areas raised the suspicion that Sunni militants were involved. Also, Sunni insurgents, particularly al-Qaida in Iraq, are known to employ such large-scale bombings.

Monday’s violence also struck Sunni areas, hitting the city of Samarra north of Baghdad and the western province of Anbar, a Sunni stronghold and the birthplace of the protest movement.

A parked car bomb in Samarra went off near a gathering of pro-government Sunni militia who were waiting outside a military base to receive salaries, killing three and wounding 13, while in Anbar gunmen ambushed two police patrols near the town of Haditha, killing eight policemen, police and army officials said.

Also in Anbar, authorities found 13 bodies dumped in a remote desert area, officials said. The bodies, which included eight policemen who were kidnapped by gunmen on Friday, had been killed with a gunshot to the head.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

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