Blasts and shootings claim 90 lives in Iraq as sectarian violence rises

Tensions have been worsening since Iraq's minority Sunnis began protesting what they say is mistreatment

Iraq is edging closer to all-out sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims as a series of car bombings and shootings killed at least 90 people and left many others injured.

Casualty figures are returning to a level not seen since the civil war of 2006-7. Most of the car bombings targeted markets, bus stops and other places crowded with civilians. A total of 10 car bombs killed 46 people and injured 150 in Baghdad, and another two bombs in the Shia port city of Basra in the south killed a further 13 and injured 40. In the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims, killing six Iranians and one Iraqi, a police officer said.

In the overwhelmingly Sunni province of Anbar in west Iraq, 12 policemen, kidnapped from a bus travelling on the main road between Baghdad and Jordan on Saturday, died during a botched rescue mission. The policemen were reportedly all shot in the head, suggesting that they had been executed by their captors during an attempt to free them.

The Sunni Arabs in Anbar, which sprawls across the west of the country, are increasingly in a state of armed rebellion. The security situation has deteriorated sharply since an attack by government forces on a peaceful protest by Sunni at Hawaijah in Kirkuk province on 23 April in which at least 44 people were killed. Eight policemen, including two officers, were killed in an attack on a police station in Haditha yesterday and a further four police were killed and three wounded in an attack by tribesmen in Rawa. Both places are in Anbar.

On Saturday, in the provincial capital of Ramadi, security forces tried and failed to arrest Mohammed Khamis Abu Risha, nephew of a powerful tribal leader, alleging that he is connected with the killing of five soldiers. Armed tribesmen fought back to prevent the arrest during which two people were killed. 

The overall level of violence in Iraq has increased markedly in recent weeks as al-Qa’ida in Iraq gains in strength. The Sunni, one fifth of Iraq’s 33 million population, are emboldened by the Sunni uprising in Syria. Their protests against discrimination and persecution were largely peaceful for the five months up the Hawaijah massacre, but they are turning to armed resistance against government security forces.

“The moderate Sunni are losing ground,” says Iraqi political scientist Ghassan al-Atiyyah. Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has been criticised for failing to conciliate the Sunni protesters before the current wave of violence. The dominant Shia majority in Iraq are frightened that they will be the victims of a Sunni counter-revolution. The Shia-run security forces are likely to retaliate in kind over the killing of so many policemen in Anbar.

The bombing and shootings have killed over 200 people since last Wednesday, with Sunni and Shia bombers alternating in attacking each other’s neighbourhoods. These tit-for-tat bombings are different from those over the last five years when bombings were almost all carried out by al-Qa’ida against Shia and government targets.

Bomb attacks on Sunni in the last few weeks suggest that Shia militias, responsible for mass slaughter of Sunni civilians in the past, are again active. During the civil war  Sunni were driven from many mixed areas in Baghdad into a few enclaves.

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn