On Sunday, according to police and medical sources, at least 47 people were killed and over 113 more were wounded by car bombs, roadside bombs, and shootings. The bloody carnage is being blamed on intensifying tensions between Sunni and Shi’itte Muslims.
Sunni Muslim insurgents are behind many of the attacks, which have dramatically increased this year. In July, alone, over 1,000 Iraqis were killed. According to the United Nations, that marked the highest death toll since 2008.
Deep-rooted sectarian divisions in Iraq have been aggravated by the more than two years of civil war that has been ongoing in neighboring Syria. These divisions and the subsequent bloodshed that has resulted have shaken Iraq’s fragile coalition of Shi’ite, Kurdish, and Sunni factions.
The increasing violence, just 18 months after the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq, has raised the fear that Iraq might be returning to the scale of sectarian slaughter that occurred in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
Since the beginning of 2013, the level and intensity of attacks on civilians in Iraq has dramatically risen. Favorite places where bombs have targeted civilians are cafes and market places, areas where families like to gather, besides the usual places like military facilities and checkpoints.
At least 11 people were killed and 34 wounded in the biggest of Sunday’s attacks. It occurred in central Baquba, which is located 65 kilometers northeast of Baghdad. A car bomb blew up near a housing complex, reslting in the casualties, according to the police.
Attacks that occurred earlier in the day included five soldiers that were killed in Oivara town, which is located approximately 290 km north of Baghdad. According to military sources, suspected militants ambushed two taxis which were taking soldiers from Baghdad to Mosul, where they would join their units.
In the words of an unidentified senior intelligence military officer:
One of the cars escaped the ambush but the second one could not and the militants shot dead five soldiers and burned their bodies after they killed them.”
According to a medical source at the morgue in Mosul, the soldiers’ bodies had been burned.
In two other explosions in Madaen, seven people were also killed and 30 others were injured. This happened about 30 km southeast of Baghdad, the police stated.
Also, police and medical sources said that another two explosions took place in commercial areas in western and northern Baghdad. In these bombings, 12 people were killed and 45 were wounded.
In eastern Baghdad, meanwhile, a bomb stuck to a car killed three people and wounded four, according to police and medical sources.
Gunmen in Diyala province shot dead an ex-policeman in the town of Abbara, a town located near the provincial capital city of Baquba, approximately 65 km northeast of Baghdad, according to a provincial police source.
Police also stated that earlier on Sunday, three people were killed and 15 wounded due to a car bomb exploding in Balad, which is around 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad. In eastern Mosul, 300 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, two other people were shot dead near their homes.
Two members of a displaced Shi’ite family who had recently returned to their home were also killed by roadside bombs. Nine others were also wounded in the attack, according to police sources.
Though no one group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Sunday, Sunni Islamist militants, emboldened by the civil war in Syria, have been regaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shi’ite-controlled government.
The death toll in Iraq on Sunday, of at least 47 dead and more than 113 wounded, are the latest signs that sectarian violence has once again turned Iraq into a bloody battleground.
Written by: Douglas Cobb