By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
Levels of violence dropped this week in Iraq in a welcome respite from the previous weeks heightened levels of attacks and political uncertainty. Approx. 119 people were killed this week, bringing the yearly total to approx. 2085.
Despite the drop in high impact attacks Iraq was by no means spared as a number of suicide IED strikes in the north of the country claimed lives and skirmishing and intense SAF attacks continued across the country, especially in Baghdad.
On Wednesday 11 May multiple attacks saw numerous casualties as insurgents struck across the northern regions.
Three suicide bombers attacked Kurdish security forces and the local headquarters of a Kurdish political party in the disputed oil-rich area of northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing three people. The first attack was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car, who attacked the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the city, killing one guard, police and hospital sources said. Another bomber in Kirkuk targeted Kurdish security, killing one and in the town of Tuz Khurmato, about 65 km south of Kirkuk, a suicide bomber in a car killed one peshmerga in an attack the was mercilessly low in casualties.
The attacks took place in the band of territory over which both the central government in Baghdad and the Kurds claim jurisdiction and which was the focus of much posturing these past weeks as the peshmerga pushed across their territorial boundary in the wake of the recent disturbances. No group immediately claimed responsibility however given the disturbances of late it is likely that these areas will continue to see a strong daily churn of violence as Baghdad and the KRG posture over oil rights and territory.
Tensions between Iraq's Sunni Arab, Shi'ite and ethnic Kurdish communities are now at their highest since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in December 2011, with Sunnis in particular growing angrier at what they see as marginalization by Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Baghdad government. With the Maliki bloc local election victory the political situation will continue to do little to assuage these fears and this undoubtedly continues to contribute to the omnipresent attacks and violence in the north.
Further across the north in Mosul, also the scene of friction between Kurds and Sunni Arabs, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing a member of the ISF, and in the city of Khaniqin, which also lies in the disputed territories, one roadside bomb killed two Iraqi army soldiers and another exploded at the entrance to a mosque, killing a worshipper.
The day ended with Militants blowing up a pipeline carrying Iraqi crude from Kirkuk to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan and a bomb killed three people when a minibus exploded in Taji, 20 km north of Baghdad.