Mortar attacks across the Shi’ite-majority districts of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad today killed at least five people and wounded 18 others. The largest such attack killed four people and wounded eight, though while police said it was a mortar Iraqi military spokesman Major General Qassim Moussawi said it was an accidental explosion.
The city has seen a growing number of attacks in recent days, centered almost exclusively around its Shi’ite districts at a time when the US-backed Sunni Awakening Councils have been at growing odds with the Shi’ite-led government. Top US Commander General Ray Odierno downplayed the growing violence earlier this week, saying it did not indicate significant opposition to the US military presence.
Yet Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi says the Sunni militias are “biding their time” and planning further attacks. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of supports of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have rallied in the city, protesting the continued US military presence. While the Iraqi government has tried to blame the media, the rising sectarian tensions are palpable in the nation, and threaten to bring back the days of record violence, which many had hoped were a thing of the past.