Last updated: 16 May, 2013

Iraqi prime minister blames surge of violence on sectarian hatred

Attacks killed 13 people and wounded more than 35 on Thursday, officials said, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed violence plaguing Iraq on “sectarian hatred.”

In the deadliest attack, a car bomb in the Shiite Sadr City area of Baghdad killed six people and wounded 17.

Another in the city’s Chikouk area killed one person and wounded four, and a third in Kamaliyah killed three and wounded nine, security and medical officials said.

Gunmen also shot dead the brother of a Sunni MP in the Bayaa area of Baghdad, officials said.

In the north, a suicide bomber driving an explosives-rigged vehicle killed two soldiers and wounded three in Mosul, while a car bomb wounded two police and three civilians.

With the latest attacks, more than 60 people have been killed in three days of violence in Iraq, and more than 175 have died in unrest so far this month, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

The attacks came as Maliki blamed sectarianism for the violence.

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

Attacks on Wednesday, including a string of bombings that hit seven different areas of the capital, many of them Shiite-majority, killed 34 people. Blasts also hit Kirkuk and Mosul and Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad.

Sixteen people were killed on Tuesday, including 12 shot dead by gunmen at Baghdad alcohol shops.

Tensions are festering between the government of Maliki, a Shiite, and members of the Sunni minority who accuse authorities of targeting their community, including through wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

Protests broke out in Sunni areas of Iraq almost five months ago.

While the government has made some concessions, such as freeing prisoners and raising the salaries of Sunni anti-Al-Qaeda fighters, underlying issues have not been addressed.

On April 23, security forces moved on protesters near the town of Hawijah in Kirkuk province, sparking clashes that killed 53 people.

Dozens more died in subsequent unrest that included revenge attacks on security forces, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives between 2006 and 2008.

Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak, but attacks are still common, killing more than 200 people in each of the first four months of this year, including more than 460 in April, according to AFP figures.