(BAGHDAD) — The month of May got off to a deadly start in Iraq with reports of at least 16 people killed in various attacks. The uptick in violence is fueling speculation of sectarian warfare possibly making a comeback after several years of dormancy.
The fears of Sunnis and Shiites going to war against each other follows a dramatic spike in fatalities last month, compared to the March death toll of about 270.
In April, 460 people died violently in Iraq, most of them civilians and security forces. Injuries were also up dramatically in April from the previous month.
Many of the deaths occurred in just the last week after government forces raided a Sunni protest encampment in northern Iraq looking for gunmen who attacked a military checkpoint.
That event touched off a series of deadly incidents with Sunni tribesmen vowing to fight attempts by the Shiite-led government to marginalize them further.
Recent events are still a far cry from the sectarian warfare between 2006-2008 that claimed at least 1,000 lives each month. However, pleas for calm by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in his bid for national reconciliation have thus far fallen on deaf ears.
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Michael Pearson and Steve Almasy, CNN
Nick Anderson, FamilyShare