Sectarian Violence Surges in Baghdad
Recent morgue figures show a rise in sectarian violence in Iraq, challenging the effectiveness of the U.S. troop surge and a three-month old security crackdown. The Bush administration had cited a drop in violence as evidence of success, but many attributed the relative lull in killings, now but a memory, to an order from Moqtada al-Sadr for his militia to temporarily stand down.
BAGHDAD — More than three months into a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive designed to curtail sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Health Ministry statistics show that such killings are rising again.
From the beginning of May until Tuesday, 321 unidentified corpses, many dumped and showing signs of torture and execution, have been found across the Iraqi capital, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The data showed that the same number of bodies were found in all of January, the month before the launch of the Baghdad security plan.
Such killings are a signature practice of Shiite militias, although Sunni insurgents are also known to execute victims. The number of found bodies is a key indicator of the level of sectarian violence, but the statistics also include some who died from causes unrelated to the political situation.