BOMBINGS TARGETING SHIITE Muslims, including a suicide bombing against the funeral of an Iraqi soldier, killed at least 33 people this evening, officials said, updating an earlier toll.
Both the attacks struck in confessionally divided Diyala province, north of Baghdad, with the suicide bomb at a Shiite religious hall killing 23 people, and another blast at a cafe in provincial capital Baquba killing 10 more.
More than 2,500 people have been killed in Iraq in the past three months alone, UN figures showed today, a surge of violence that has fanned fears the politically-deadlocked country is slipping back into all-out bloodshed.
The toll comes as the country grapples with months of protests among the Sunni Arab minority, tensions in a swathe of territory in northern Iraq disputed by the Kurds, and a protracted political deadlock that has blocked key legislation.
Attacks in June targeted a wide cross-section of Iraqi society — government targets and security forces were hit by car bombs, mosques were struck by suicide attackers, anti-Qaeda militiamen were shot dead, and Iraqis watching and playing football were killed by blasts.
“They (militants) are intent on causing large number of casualties, to embarrass the government, to raise frustrations and possibly stoke a return to militias again,” said John Drake, a Britain-based analyst for risk consultancy AKE Group.
“There’s something about this period that’s very familiar. It feels like we’ve gone back several years.
“I remember saying the same things in 2007,” he added, referring to the brutal sectarian war that blighted Iraq in 2006 and 2007, leaving tens of thousands dead.
The surge in violence comes amid a protracted political standoff within Iraq’s national unity government, with little in the way of landmark legislation passed since a 2010 parliamentary election.
- © AFP 2013.