(NEW YORK) — As many had feared, May not only turned out to be the deadliest month in Iraq since American forces left the country a year-and-a-half ago but also the month with the most fatalities since June 2008.
According to statistics released last Saturday by the United Nations, at least 1,045 civilians and security personnel died in May due to violence, largely because of the rise in sectarian conflicts.
The greater Baghdad area alone accounted for more than half of those killed by insurgents and militants seeking to stir up simmering animosities between Sunnis and Shiites.
Car bombs and other types of explosives were the primary killing instruments used.
Calling May’s death toll “a sad record,” Martin Kobler, special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq, said, “Iraqi political leaders must act immediately to stop this intolerable bloodshed.”
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly urged calm, vowing to go after the perpetrators of violent acts.
Nonetheless, his requests for national unity seem to be falling on deaf ears with Sunni lawmakers and tribesmen blaming him for conditions leading to a revival of sectarian tensions.
The U.N.’s death toll may be called into dispute since Iraqi officials claim it’s closer to 580. However, the international body claims its numbers are more accurate, saying they’re based on direct investigation and credible outside sources.
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Sugam Pokharel and Tim Hume, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Sarah Anderson, Deseret News
Rafael Romo and Patrick Gillespie, CNN