May 23, 2013
More than 100 killed in attacks across Iraq
More than 100 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks in Iraq after 20 died in blasts the previous day in a coordinated surge of violence against mostly Shi'ite Muslim targets.
As well as the dozens of deaths at least 223 people were wounded in bomb attacks in Shi'ite areas of Baghdad, the Shi'ite town of Taji to the north, the mixed northern city of Kirkuk and elsewhere, hospital and police sources said, making it one of Iraq's bloodiest days in weeks.
No group has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of assaults but a senior Iraqi security official blamed the local wing of al Qaeda, made up of Sunni Muslim militants hostile to the Shi'ite-led government, which is friendly with Iran.
"Recent attacks are a clear message that al Qaeda in Iraq is determined to spark a bloody sectarian war," the official said, asking not to be named.
"With what's going on in Syria, these attacks should be taken seriously as a potential threat to our country. Al Qaeda is trying to push Iraq to the verge of Shi'ite-Sunni war," he said. "They want things to be as bad as in Syria."
The last two days of bombings and shootings shattered a two-week lull in violence in the run-up to the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started in Iraq on Saturday.
Sectarian slaughter peaked in 2006-2007 but deadly attacks have persisted while political tensions among Iraq's main Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions have mounted since U.S. troops left the country in December.