It’s been a bloody Friday in Iraq. At least 136 total deaths were recorded, including 11 American soldiers. It ranks on the list as the fourth most deaths in a single 24 hour period since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.
It began with a suicide bomber infiltrating a line of police recruits and killing 59, including one U. S. Marine in Ramadi. Next two soldiers died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Baghdad area. After that two U.S. Marines were killed by separate small arms attacks while conducting combat operations in Fallujah. Then the deaths of five soldiers hit by a roadside bomb south of Karbala, which was only minutes before a second suicide bomber struck Shiite pilgrims in that city, killing 63.
It’s a sober reminder that even though Bush stood before a crowd of sailors and proclaimed victory over a year ago and his second in command Dick Cheney was quoted as saying we are in the “last throws” of the war, this conflict is far from over. It actually may be getting worse.
"We aren't past the dangers that threaten progress and there will be more tragedies ahead of us," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson in a statement to the press. There has even been talk amongst the natives of civil war.
"This is a war against Shi'ites," said Rida Jawad al-Takia, a senior member of Iraq's main Shia religious party "Apparently, to the terrorists, no Shi'ite child or woman should live. We are really worried. It seems they want a civil war."
Altogether more than 240 people have been killed in the five days since the new year began and more than 280 have been wounded. Some blame the recent elections for the outpouring of violence.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said this week's violence was an attempt to thwart the political process just as the Sunni minority was being brought into a broad-based government that would weaken the Sunni-led insurgency.
Mistrust between Shi'ites and Sunnis has been heightened by the results of last month's elections, which some Sunni and secular leaders say were rigged to favor the majority Shi'ites.