By Tom Walker, Director, Assaye Risk
Despite recent levels of heightened violence and multiple catastrophic attacks over the past weeks Iraq was somewhat spared similar events during this reporting period. As a result we have seen a correspondingly lower number of fatalities across the country with 89 killed, down 154 on last weeks figures.
Whilst Iraq is experiencing a mild hiatus as violence dropped this week the period has by no means been incident free. The daily churn of violence, so common across the country, prevails, especially in Baghdad, the surrounding provinces and the Tigris River valley.
The front end of the reporting period saw the highest intensity of the week. On Thursday 30 May a series of bombs battered Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim neighborhoods in a combination of provocation and revenge attacks across Baghdad, killing at least 25 people. Early on Thursday morning, a car bomb exploded in the mainly Sunni district of Binoog in north Baghdad, killing at least four people. Throughout the day, at least six more bombs killed another 20 people in mainly Shi'ite and Sunni districts across the capital. Most of the victims were civilians, but ISF were also targeted in the attacks that hit north, south and central Baghdad.
No group claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks, but Sunni Islamist insurgents and al Qaeda's Iraqi wing – ISI - have increased their operational tempo markedly since the beginning of the year as part of a campaign to exacerbate inter-communal tensions, which has also spurred the Shia militias to act in revenge, despite them showing much restraint of late.
The violence prompted the United Nations envoy in Baghdad to warn about the risk of a broader confrontation if the country's political leadership does not unify and act to negotiate an end to the sectarian tensions at the heart of the crisis. "Systemic violence is ready to explode at any moment if all Iraqi leaders do not engage immediately to pull the country out of this mayhem," United Nations representative Martin Kobler said.