Iraq; Another day of violence in Baghdad and the south

Monday, August 28, 2006

In the southern city of Diwania, Iraqi troops battled members of the Shia minority's Mehdi Army, killing 40 gunmen and wounding another 40 civilians. The fighting claimed 19 Iraqi Army troops. Internal Iraqi forces had lost control of parts of Diwaniya city in Iraq's south after members of the Mehdi Army rejected a call to participate in peace negotiations. In response the Mehdi Army setup checkpoints in parts of the city, sparking the violence that saw the Iraqi government send in large numbers of reinforcements to re-take control of the city.

In Baghdad a mid-morning blast injured about a dozen people, and killing at least eight police officers. The blast was aimed at the heavily securied Iraqi Interior Ministry, which has been the frequent target of attacks. No claim of responsibility has been reported.

This morning's violence contrasted statements by Maj Gen William Caldwell, who claimed "Insurgents and terrorists are hitting back in an attempt to offset the success of the Iraqi government and its security forces," the general went on to say that violence had fallen by half since July, but had increased suddenly in the last two days. Yesterday five US soldiers were killed in three separate bombing incidents, killing four and one respectively, the US military announced today.

Sectarian violence has flared in Iraq since the US-led invasion, leading some to speculate that Iraq is now in the throwes of a civil war. Calls to partition the country are becoming louder, bringing into question the future of Iraq as a unified state. The assassination of the chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's trial for genocide highlights the deep divisions between Iraq's cultural factions, lending creedance to speculation that Iraq has a long way to go before the safety of civilians can be assured. Factions still loyal to the Hussein Regieme remain under cover, undermining the reported progress of western forces.