Shiite gunmen bent on revenge burned mosques and homes in a Sunni enclave of Baghdad Friday as Iraq's leaders pleaded for calm a day after the worst bomb attack since the start of the U.S. invasion. Analysts discuss the events of the past two days.
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It was the single deadliest attack by Iraqis on other Iraqis since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Yesterday, suspected Sunni militants staged a well-coordinated string of bombings across the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad.
At least five car bombs detonated in crowded marketplaces and busy intersections 15 minutes apart. More than 200 Iraqis were killed, hundreds more wounded.
The reprisals quickly followed, as Shiites lashed out, attacking the most popular Sunni mosque in Baghdad with mortar rounds. Iraq's top leaders met last night and issued a televised appeal for calm.
NOURI AL-MALIKI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through translator):
I hope that all political and popular forces will come together to protect the people and all people from the violence of the criminals. I also ask the security forces to guard the people to prevent the deterioration of the situation and stop this sectarian unrest.
Today, the bereaved buried their dead, while across Baghdad the counterattacks mounted, leaving dozens more dead, despite a curfew imposed by the national government.
Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr today blamed U.S. forces for not securing the city. His political loyalists in the parliament threatened to leave the coalition government if Iraq's prime minister goes ahead with a planned meeting with President Bush next week in Jordan.
There were also reports today of U.S. forces exchanging fire with Iraqis in Sadr City. One officer said this of the difficulty of the U.S. task.
1ST LT. CHARLES MORTON, U.S. Army: If you're helping the Sunni, then the Shia think you're out to kill Shias.
The latest violence follows a U.N. report this week that Iraq has suffered the highest monthly total of civilian casualties since 2003. More than 3,700 Iraqis were killed in October, 400 more than the month before.