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Bombings in Iraq Stoke Fears of More Sectarian Violence

August 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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In Iraq, 48 people were killed and 250 others wounded today in the latest string of attacks against Shiites. ITN's Channel 4 news correspondent Jonathan Rugman reports.
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JIM LEHRER: Iraq was hit with a new wave of bombings today that killed at least 48 people. More than 250 others were wounded. The attacks were the latest to target Shiites, and they raised fears that widespread sectarian violence will erupt again.

We have a lead story report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: The plains beneath the Kurdish mountains are becoming Iraq’s most dangerous region. Two truck bombs exploding east of the city of Mosul today destroying scores of homes, 30 dead and over 150 wounded. This crater destroying an entire Shiite village.

All this after a similar attack on local Shiites killed 37 only last Friday. The pattern emerging here is one of minorities being deliberately targeted in the north of Iraq, a foretaste perhaps of a long-feared Kurdish-Arab civil war.

In Baghdad, no fewer than nine bombs exploded today, most of them in areas where Shiites form the majority. Two minibuses were ripped apart, and earlier two explosions claimed the lives of day laborers, gathering in the early morning to look for work, leaving at least 24 dead across the capital.

IRAQI MAN (through translator): People were gathering here to earn their living. What did people do to deserve this? Can God accept this?

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said Iraqis shouldn’t be complacent, that attempts to damage Iraq would increase. But only last week his government began removing so-called blast walls from main roads in the capital, while an Iraqi general claimed security was not an issue anymore.

The situation has improved: 224 civilians were killed last month compared with 387 in July last year. And the improvement has been sustained. Over 6,500 killed in the first eight months of last year compared with fewer than 3,000 in the same period for 2009.

But an upsurge in violence, including today’s attacks and those in Mosul on Friday, have seen at least 120 civilians killed so far this August.

In the six weeks since American troops largely withdrew to their bases, Iraq’s security forces have been tested like never before. But Iraq’s sectarian divides have not gone away.

JIM LEHRER: There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of today’s attacks.