By Christine van den Toorn.
One of the most peaceful towns in Iraq, near one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq, is under threat. Bashiqa is in danger of becoming a troubled metaphor for the conflicts that threaten the rest of Iraq.
For about a decade, Bashiqa, a small village only 30 kilometres from Mosul, arguably the most dangerous place in Iraq, has avoided the violence that has plagued the rest of the country. Until recently, that is.
At the end of October, two car bombs exploded just outside the main city checkpoint which resulted in three deaths and over twenty casualties. The checkpoint is just beyond downtown Bashiqa.
And just over a week before that during the annual holiday of Eid, two car bombs were discovered in the rural Shabak-dominated villages around Bashiqa. One exploded – though there were no casualties. The other was discovered before it was able to be detonated – many locals think it was on the way to Mam Ritha, a centuries old Shiite Muslim shrine.
Yet in the past, Bashiqa’s locals have been proud that there have been explosions everywhere in Iraq “ila Bashiqa” (“except for Bashiqa”).
Why then, has violence now come to the town after so many years?