Sunday, July 03, 2005

WKRC 12 Cincinnati - Tension rises anew between Shiites and Sunnis in wake of Baghdad bombings

WKRC 12 Cincinnati - Tension rises anew between Shiites and Sunnis in wake of Baghdad bombings:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The Shiite mourners were crying for blood, threatening to burn down a Sunni town where dozens of Shiite travelers had been slain. Their rage boiled over after a fresh spate of bombings killed nearly 40 people in Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad.

A senior Shiite politician, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, appealed for calm, telling the 2,000-strong crowd that Sunnis and Shiites must live in peace together. Yet he had sent a very different message just two days before, suggesting Shiites set up vigilante groups to track down 'terrorists' in the Sunni-led insurgency and report them to security authorities, which are dominated by Shiites.

Tensions between Shiite Arabs and the Sunni minority are rapidly worsening, pushing Iraq closer to a civil war that could disrupt its young democracy and lead to its breakup.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime more than two years ago, tensions have flared several times. But each time, historical ties binding the two groups and appeals for calm from religious leaders have averted conflict.

In the face of spiraling violence, however, anti-Sunni sentiments among Shiite leaders are being articulated publicly, with impunity and tacit approval from powerful political circles. "

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