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Iraq hit by worst violence since 2008

Published on: June 3, 2013

Iraq was hit in May by its worst violence in five years, further stoking fears of all-out sectarian strife, as its top two political rivals publicly embraced on Saturday in a symbolic move aimed at easing tensions. Authorities have failed to bring the wave of unrest under control, nor addressed the underlying political issues that analysts say are driving the attacks, and the UN envoy to Iraq has warned that the violence is “ready to explode.”

May’s death toll was more than 600, according to officials and more than 1,000, according to the United Nations. Either would make it the deadliest month since 2008. The wave of violence comes about 18 months after the last American troops left Iraq, which is neither secure nor stable more than a decade after the US-led invasion of the country.

An AFP count, based on information from security and medical sources, put May’s toll at 614 people killed and 1,550 wounded, while data from government ministries showed 681 had died and 1,097 were wounded. The UN gave a significantly higher toll of 1,045 killed and 2,397 wounded. On Saturday evening, top political and religious figures came together for a gathering that has been called for since late 2011, but continually delayed. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia, embraced parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, his main Sunni political rival, in a move symbolising an aim to reduce tensions in the country.


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