Iraq bombs outside Sunni killed at least 76

Sunni/Shia violence

Bombs Kill Sunnis in Iraq

Tension between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is escalating, and threatening to erupt into a civil war.  Bombs were detonated outside a Sunni mosque as mourners were leaving a funeral on Friday.

CNN is reported that at least 76 people were killed, and more than 46 were injured by the explosions.  The attack is believed to be in retaliation for Thursday’s strike, when a suicide bomber killed 12 people at the entrance of Al-Zahraa Husseiniyah, a Shia place of worship in the city of Kirkuk

In addition, car bombs were exploded in the predominately Shiite areas, killing 10.  At least 21 died in the same fashion on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday blamed the violence on religious intolerance.

“The bloodshed… is a result of sectarian hatred,” Maliki said. “These crimes are a natural result of the sectarian mindset.”

When Saddam Hussein was in power, Sunnis, the minority party, ruled Iran.  After the U.S. invasion in 2003, the nation shifted towards Shia control.  Sunnis claim that the Shia government is persecuting them, and are forced to defend themselves.

Martin Kobler, the U.N. special representative for Iraq, is calling upon the leaders of both sides to put an end to the bloodshed.

“It is the responsibility of all leaders to stop the bloodshed in this country and to protect their citizens,” he said.

“Small children are burned alive in cars. Worshippers are cut down outside their own mosques. This is beyond unacceptable. It is the politicians’ responsibility to act immediately and to engage in dialogue to resolve the political impasse and put an end to this.”

Can there be peace in a nation divided by religious extremes?  Many think not.  The American interference in Iraqi politics assisted in increasing the division of the religious sects.

One of the most violent days was April 23, when government security forces moved on Sunni protesters near the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk province, sparking clashes that killed 53 people.

Although sectarian violence has declined from its height in 2006-2008, in the last four months there have been at least 200 deaths in each of them.  Fears of escalating attacks possibly rising to levels above the previous peak period haunt the daily lives of Iraqis.

Meanwhile, in the northeast section of Iraq, in Kurdistan, young Kurds are reportedly waging a different war.  Many of them are fighting with the rebels in Syria.

In February, the Kurdish newspapers published news of the death of a young Iraqi Kurdish man studying pharmacology at an Indian university who left his studies and went to Syria to assist fighters against the Syrian regime.  His name was Howkar Muhammed Kurdi.

The incident incited other young Kurds to join the jihad.  The Kurdish people are fearful that the violence will spread across the border from Syria into Kurdistan itself.

The region is more unstable now than it was ten years ago.  Death and destruction, combined with constant unrest, and mistrust, makes daily life for the average Iraqi citizen very difficult.  Just as with the Israelis and Palestinians in the west bank, Sunnis and Shia appear that they will not rest until one or the other is eliminated from the borders of Iraq.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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