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03 December 2023

Iraq attacks kill 123 in three days


Attacks in Iraq killed 14 people on Wednesday, the latest in a wave of bloodshed mostly targeting Shiite Muslims that has left 123 dead in the past three days amid fears the country is slipping back into all-out war.

The surge in violence has also wounded more than 320 others, and comes as the country grapples with a protracted political stand-off and months of anti-government protests, with analysts warning the deadlock is unlikely to be resolved at least until general elections due next year.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, but Sunni militants linked to Al-Qaeda often target Shiites, whom they regard as apostates.

In Wednesday's deadliest violence, a bomb went off in the Nahrawan area of southeast Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding at least 14 others, security and medical sources said.

Elsewhere, two car bombs in the main northern city of Mosul killed four people, while other attacks around Iraq left three dead. Three militants were also killed in separate incidents.

The bloodshed came after a wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq on Tuesday that killed 57 people and unrest on Monday in which 49 others died.

A member of parliament said the situation is unlikely to get any better as Iraq heads next week into the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which has seen in past years an increase in attacks.

"Nothing will change," Hassan Jihad, a Kurdish MP on parliament's security and defence committee, told AFP.

"This month will not be better because the security forces will carry out the same routine, there will be no change in their activities."

And "they (militants) will continue to show that they are everywhere, that they can reach any place."

The worst of Tuesday's violence struck Baghdad, with at least six car bombs hitting markets and commercial areas in predominantly Shiite neighbourhoods, leaving 42 people dead.

Four others were killed in shootings in the capital, while bombs were also set off in the mostly-Shiite southern cities of Basra, Amara and Samawa, as well as the Sunni Arab cities of Abu Ghraib, Kirkuk, Baquba and Mosul.

Tuesday's violence came a day after a series of attacks north of Baghdad left 49 people dead, among them 23 in a suicide bombing at a funeral in a Shiite religious hall.

The United Nations has said that more than 2,500 people were killed in a surge of violence from April through June.

Figures compiled by AFP, meanwhile, showed the death toll in that time was more than twice that of the first three months of the year.

"This is a very sustained deterioration, which is more concerning than some of the spikes in violence we have seen over recent years," said John Drake, a Britain-based analyst with risk consultancy AKE Group.

Attacks in recent months have targeted a wide cross-section of Iraqi society -- government buildings 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.

The surge in violence comes amid a protracted political standoff within Iraq's national unity government.

While political leaders have pledged to resolve the dispute, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meeting his two main rivals last month, no tangible measures have been agreed.

Meanwhile, tensions have continued along a swathe of disputed territory in north Iraq, and months of protests among the Sunni Arab community have continued unabated, albeit in smaller numbers since provincial elections earlier this year.