Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

May 18, 2013

Bombs targeting Sunnis kill at least 76 in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Bombs ripped through Sunni areas in Baghdad and surrounding areas Friday, killing at least 76 people in the deadliest day in Iraq in more than eight months. The major spike in sectarian bloodshed heightened fears the country could again be veering toward civil war.

The attacks followed two days of bombings targeting Shiites, including bus stops and outdoor markets, with a total of 130 people killed since Wednesday.

Scenes of bodies sprawled across a street outside a mosque and mourners killed during a funeral procession were reminiscent of some of the worst days of retaliatory warfare between the Islamic sects that peaked in 2006-2007 as U.S. forces battled extremists on both sides.

Tensions have been intensifying since Sunnis began protesting what they say is mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government, including random detentions and neglect. The protests, 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.

Majority Shiites control the levers of power in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Wishing to rebuild the nation rather than revert to open warfare, they have largely restrained their militias in the past five years or so as Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaida have frequently targeted them with large-scale attacks.

Nobody claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks, but the fact they occurred in mainly Sunni areas raised suspicion that Shiite militants were involved. The bombs also were largely planted in the areas, as opposed to the car bombings and suicide attacks that al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents are known to use.

Talal al-Zobaie, a Sunni lawmaker, called on politicians across the religious and ethnic spectrum to put aside their differences and focus on protecting the nation.

“The terrorist attacks on Sunni areas today and on Shiite areas in the past two days are an indication that some groups and regional countries are working hard to reignite the sectarian war in Iraq,” he said. “The government should admit that it has failed to secure the country and the people, and all security commanders should be replaced by efficient people who can really confront terrorism. Sectarianism that has bred armies of widows and orphans in the past is now trying to make a comeback in this country, and everybody should be aware of this.”

The areas hit Friday were all former Sunni insurgent strongholds that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the U.S.-led war as sectarian rivalries nearly tore the country apart.

The deadliest blast struck worshippers as they were leaving the main Sunni mosque in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Another explosion went off shortly afterward as people gathered to help the wounded, leaving 41 dead and 56 wounded, according to police and hospital officials.

Grocery store owner Hassan Alwan was among the worshippers who attended Friday prayers in the al-Sariya mosque. He said he was getting ready to leave when he heard the explosion, followed by another a few minutes later.

“We rushed into the street and saw people who were killed and wounded, and other worshippers asking for help,” he said. “I do not know where the country is headed amid these attacks against both Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.”

Baqouba was the site of some of the fiercest fighting between U.S. forces and insurgents. Al-Qaida in Iraq essentially controlled the area for years, defying numerous U.S. offensives aimed at restoring control. It also is the capital of Diyala province, a religiously mixed area that saw some of the worst atrocities as Shiite militias battled Sunni insurgents for control.

A roadside bomb exploded later Friday during a Sunni funeral procession in Madain, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad, killing eight mourners and wounding 11, police said. Two medical officials confirmed the casualties.

Another blast struck a cafe in Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding nine, according to police and hospital officials.

Ahmed Jassim, a 26-year-old taxi driver, had to take a wounded friend to the Fallujah hospital after the attack.

“We used to meet every Friday to smoke shisha (a water pipe) and we thought we would have a good time today, but things turned into explosions and victims,” he said, waiting outside the hospital.

In Baghdad, a bomb exploded near a shopping center during the evening rush hour in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah, killing 21 people and wounding 32. That was followed by another bomb in a commercial district in Dora, another Sunni neighborhood, which killed four people and wounded 22, according to officials.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

“It is not a coincidence that the attacks were concentrated in some areas of one sect and then moved the next day into areas of the other sect,” said Jawad al-Hasnawi, a lawmaker with the bloc loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

“It is clear that terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and Baathists are trying hard to reignite the sectarian war in Iraq,” he added. “But the government bears full responsibility for this security chaos and it has to take quick and serious measures in order to stop the bloodshed, instead of just blaming other political blocs.”

Al-Hasnawi added: “Today and yesterday, the Iraqi people paid for the failure of government security forces. Everybody should expect darker days full of even deadlier attacks.”

Iraqis have grown used to a cycle of high-profile bombings.

It was the deadliest day since Sept. 9, 2012, when 92 people were killed, according to an Associated Press tally.

The attacks on Sunnis came after two days of car bombs targeting Shiite areas in Baghdad and other attacks that left 33 dead on Wednesday and 21 dead on Thursday.

The violence against a Sunni Muslim house of worship represented a trend that has been on the rise. About 30 Sunni mosques have been attacked from mid-April to mid-May, killing more than 100 worshippers. It also comes against the backdrop of the civil war in neighboring Syria that also has taken on sectarian undertones and frequently spilled across the border.

In the southern city of Basra, hundreds of Iraqis attended the funeral of two Shiite fighters killed in Syria. Several such funerals have been held in recent months as Iraqi Shiite fighters have trickled into Syria to fight for President Bashar Assad’s regime. The Assad government is dominated by the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, which is fighting mostly Sunni rebels.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • United States-Libya_Rich.jpg US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP9607270692 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

    A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he’s “not giving Shrek a ticket.”

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results