Bloody Ramadan: More Than 100 Killed in Iraq So Far

August 17, 2011 - 4:31 AM

( – Iraq’s day of carnage on Monday may result in this year’s Islamic fast month of Ramadan matching last year’s when it comes to deadly violence in the country.

Some 70 people were killed in multiple attacks across the country, with the choice of targets pointing to the strong likelihood that al-Qaeda-linked Sunni militants were responsible.

The surge of violence came roughly halfway through Ramadan, the lunar month when Muslims believe the Qur’an was revealed to Mohammed. It is observed with prayers and dawn-to-dusk fasting.

When Ramadan began at the beginning of August, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – the bloc of Islamic states – issued a statement calling on Muslims “to respect the sanctity of this blessed month and put an end to all forms of enmity and blood-shedding.”

“The advent of this holy month is a crucial occasion to emphasize the lofty values of Islam and its human principles and underscore the meanings of solidarity among Muslims,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

Since then, the OIC chief has issued 10 statements, including three condemning Israel for various policies, three relating to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, two on the violence in Syria – but none on Iraq.

Untroubled by the “sanctity” of the month, Islamic militants in Iraq last Ramadan carried out a spate of violent attacks against fellow Muslims. Running from Aug. 8-Sept. 9, Ramadan 2010 saw at least 294 deaths recorded in dozens of attacks, according to wire service reports.

The two deadliest days were August 17, when 68 people were killed in several attacks, 57 of them in a suicide bombing outside an army recruitment center in Baghdad; and August 25, when 63 people were killed in numerous attacks, including suicide bombings in Baghdad and in Kut, about 95 miles south-east of the capital.

With two weeks yet to go, Ramadan 2011 has so far recorded at least 107 violent deaths – according to wire service reports – since the month began on Aug. 1 for Sunnis in Iraq and a day later for Shi’ites.

The month began with an Aug. 2 attack targeting Christians – a bombing and two attempted bombings outside churches in Kirkuk. More than 20 people were injured.

The same day, three policemen were killed in a bombing at a liquor store in western Baghdad, an Iraqi army lieutenant-colonel was shot dead while driving near Kirkuk, and two members of an anti-al-Qaeda tribal militia were shot and killed near Baquba, north of Baghdad.

On Aug. 3, nine people were killed in two bombings targeting police in the Anbar capital Ramadi, and an Iraqi policeman was killed in an IED attack at a prison complex in Baghdad.

Aug. 7 saw six members of a Shi’ite family killed in a bombing in Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad; a member of the Sunni Awakening Council killed in a bomb blast in the Abu Ghraib district; and an Iraqi soldier shot dead at his home in Diyala province.

On Aug. 11, three people were killed in explosions at the Ramadi home of a policeman, and almost 40 people were injured in various bombings in the capital.

Aug. 13 brought more Ramadan violence, with two civilians killed in an early morning bomb explosion in western Baghdad; an Iraqi soldier and a policeman killed in a bombing of a patrol in Anbar province; and a Shi’ite cleric shot dead in Baghdad.

The next day, Sunday, five Iraqi soldiers were killed in a pair of bombings in a Sunni neighborhood in northern Baghdad.

That led up to Monday’s bloodshed, which affected half of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Attacks – car bombs, motorcycle bombs, roadside bombings, suicide bombings and shootings – took place in Baghdad, Diyala, Wasit, Salahuddin, Najaf, Karbala, Kirkuk, Babil and Ninawa provinces.

The worst single attack was a roadside bomb, followed by a car bomb, in the Wasit provincial capital, Kut, which killed at least 37 people. In Yusufiyah south of Baghdad, gunmen – presumably Shi’ites – hauled seven people out of a Sunni mosque and shot and killed them.

According to figures made available by the Iraqi health ministry, the deadliest month for Iraqi civilians over the past year was last August (three-quarters of which coincided with Ramadan), when 295 people were killed.

Every month since then has recorded fewer than 200 civilian deaths. The figures for this year were: January 159, February 119, March 136, April 120, May 102, June 155 and July 159.

Figures kept by, based on reports from news agencies, differ somewhat from the Iraqi government ones, but also show last August was the deadliest month over the past 12.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has reported not one U.S. military death in Iraq, in combat or otherwise, since the beginning of August – two months after the deadliest month for American military personnel in more than two years.