Death toll in Iraq passes 500 in May

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BAGH­DAD — Vi­o­lence in Iraq has killed more than 500 peo­ple in May, fig­ures showed yes­ter­day, as au­thor­i­ties strug­gled to con­tain a wave of un­rest that has raised fears of new sec­tar­ian con­flict.

Mean­while, the UN en­voy urged Iraqi lead­ers to meet to re­solve a long-run­ning po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that is of­ten linked to the in­abil­ity of the coun­try’s se­cu­rity forces to re­duce lev­els of vi­o­lence.

As of Mon­day, 503 peo­ple were killed and 1,273 wounded, mak­ing May the dead­li­est month in at least a year, ac­cord­ing to the data, based on re­ports from se­cu­rity and med­i­cal of­fi­cials.

May is the sec­ond month in a row in which more than 400 peo­ple have been killed, for a to­tal of 960 peo­ple in the two months.

A wave of at­tacks, in­clud­ing bomb­ings in Bagh­dad that mainly tar­geted Shi­ite ar­eas, killed 58 peo­ple on Mon­day and wounded 187, of­fi­cials said.

“I once again urge all Iraqi lead­ers to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to pro­tect Iraqi civil­ians. It is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to...

... stop the blood­shed now,” UN en­voy Martin Kobler said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

“It is the politi­cians’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to act im­me­di­ately and to en­gage in dia­logue to re­solve the po­lit­i­cal im­passe and not let ter­ror­ists ben­e­fit from their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences,” he said.

Iraq is faced with var­i­ous long-run­ning po­lit­i­cal crises over is­sues rang­ing from pow­er­shar­ing to ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries, that have paral­ysed the govern­ment.

The US em­bassy in Bagh­dad also con­demned the deadly un­rest.

Iraq has seen a height­ened level of vi­o­lence since the be­gin­ning of the year, co­in­cid­ing with ris­ing dis­con­tent among Iraqi Sun­nis that had erupted into protests in late De­cem­ber.

Mem­bers of Iraq’s Sunni mi­nor­ity ac­cuse the Shi­ite-led govern­ment of marginal­is­ing and tar­get­ing their com­mu­nity.

An­a­lysts say govern­ment poli­cies that have dis­en­fran­chised Sun­nis, cou­pled with Shi­ite-led au­thor­i­ties’ re­fusal to make any ma­jor con­ces­sions to the pro­test­ers, have given mil­i­tant groups fuel and room to ma­noeu­vre among the dis­il­lu­sioned com­mu­nity.

The govern­ment has made some con­ces­sions aimed at pla­cat­ing pro­test­ers and Sun­nis in gen­eral, such as free­ing pris­on­ers and rais­ing the salaries of Sunni anti-al-Qaeda fight­ers, but un­der­ly­ing is­sues have yet to be ad­dressed.

Vi­o­lence in Iraq has fallen from its peak at the height of the sec­tar­ian con­flict in 2006 and 2007, but at­tacks re­main com­mon. —

— AFP/VNA Photo

Iraqi men gather at the scene of one of two car bombs that ex­ploded near a used car deal­er­ship in Bagh­dad's Habibiyah area on Mon­day.

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