Iraq is teetering on the brink of anarchy following the worst week of bloodshed since the US-led invasion in March 2003. Politicians in Washington have urged the Iraqi people to put sectarian violence behind them and unite behind the country’s government.
During a speech in the US capital, Vice President Dick Cheney admitted progress would be a struggle: “Last week, terrorists attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites for Shiite muslims, in a clear attempt to ignite a civil war. We can expect further acts of violence and destruction by the enemies of freedom.”
Iraqi government officials put the official death count for the last week at 379 dead and 458 wounded. At least 60 people died yesterday in car bomb attacks in Baghdad alone. Four devices exploded within two minutes of each other at midday. The violence came a day after the lifting of a daytime curfew which had been imposed to help prevent sectarian violence from taking place.
Two British soldiers also died when a bomb exploded in the town of Amarra. The British Army’s reputation in southern Iraq has suffered since the publication of pictures two weeks ago showing alleged brutality. Earlier, bombs wrecked the tomb of Saddam Hussein’s father in Tikrit. It is feared the attack could further stir sectarian violence after the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra last week.