Basra carnage escalates as one person killed every hour

One person is being assassinated in Basra every hour, as order in Iraq's second city disintegrates, according to an Iraqi Defence Ministry official.

And a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition, a survey of 20,000 households by the Iraqi government and Unicef says.

The number of violent killings in Basra is now at a level close to that of Baghdad, and marks the failure of the British Army's three-year attempt to quell violence there. Police no longer dare go to the site of a murder because they fear being attacked. The governor of Basra, Mohammed Misbahal-Wa'ili, is trying to sack the city's police chief, claiming that the police have not carried out a single investigation into hundreds of recent assassinations.

The collapse of government authority in Iraq is increasing at every level and leaders in Baghdad have yet to form a cabinet, five months after parliamentary elections on 15 December.

Insurgent attacks on American and British troops are also proving more lethal, with 44 US soldiers and seven British killed so far this month, and with daily losses exceeding anything seen for more than a year.

Majid al-Sari, an adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, describing the situation in Basra to the daily al-Zaman, said that on average one person was being assassinated every hour. Militiamen and tribesmen are often the only real authority. When Sheikh Hassan Jarih al-Karamishi was killed by men dressed in police uniforms at the weekend, Mr Sari said his heavily armed armed tribesmen stormed one police station in south Basra, killing 11 police, and burnt down two other buildings, headquarters for a political party.

Tribes who once lived in the marshlands outside Basra are engaged in constant feuds with other tribes. While militias owe allegiance to Shia parties, they are also suspected of receiving funds from Kuwaiti and Iranian intelligence.

The number of Iraqis killed as a result of violence receives some international attention, but many others, particularly young children, die because they are malnourished and vulnerable to disease. A quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from chronic malnutrition, according to an Iraqi government survey of more than 20,000 households, backed by Unicef's Iraq Support Centre.

The number of children between six months and five years old suffering from acute malnourishment rose from 4 per cent in 2002, the last year of Saddam Hussein's rule, to 9 per cent in 2005, Unicef said.

In the midst of the turmoil, Iraq's political leaders have been labouring unsuccessfully to put together a unity government. Their inability to do so after five months only serves to demonstrate their deep disunity. The prime minister-designate, Nuri al-Maliki, is due to announce a cabinet by next Monday, but there is no agreement on the most important posts such as the interior and defence ministries.

At the root of the failure to form a government is the fact that Shia religious parties won two parliamentary elections last year, on 30 January and 15 December.

Last year, Ibrahim al-Jaafari led a government based on an alliance between the Kurds and Shia religious parties. The Shia fear that the US and Britain, supporting the Kurdish and Sunni parties, want to rob them of their electoral victory.

Meanwhile, the rest of Baghdad has slipped into civil war. Yesterday gunmen shot dead five guards in the largely Shia district of Shaab. As bystanders went to help the dead and dying, a car bomb blew up beside an oil tanker, killing another 13 people.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee