Sectarian violence in Iraqi capital hits, 86 found dead

Alessandro Roco

As of Tuesday, authorities have reported that at least 86 bodies have been found in the Iraqi capital, sparking fears that sectarian reprisal killings are continuing at a rapid pace, according to

The latest spring of violence follows Sunday’s string of car bombs in Sadr City, home to Baghdad’s huge Shiite slum, which killed at least 46 people and wounded more than 200 others.

With the newly elected Iraqi parliament meeting yesterday, police and authorities announced that because of the impending violence in Baghdad, extra security measures would be taken, such as the mandatory search of every vehicle that traveled through the city between 8 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Thursday.

On Tuesday, police had found 29 bodies with their hands bound and gunshot wounds through their heads in a Shiite neighborhood on the eastern side of Baghdad.

Many international political experts have said that this series of attacks is not isolated, but rather a continuing set of sectarian killings that do not look to cease peacefully any time soon.

“The indications are that these are sectarian killings,” CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson said. “You talk to some people here in Baghdad and they talk in their neighborhoods, mixed neighborhoods, mixed neighborhoods, of tit-for-tat killings. It’s Sunni one day, Shia the next, and so forth.”

Baghdad, home to over six million Iraqis has been the center of the wave of killings lately, and has sparked up in other cities since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra.

The latest attacks in Baghdad do not bode well for President Bush, who has seen his latest performance approval rating drop to an all-time low of 36 percent, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

The poll also revealed that 57 percent of Americans consider the March 2003 invasion that overthrew then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a mistake.

Only 32 percent of those polled were confident that Bush had a clear plan for handling the current situation in Iraq. As of the past week’s total, more than 2,300 U.S. troops had been killed.

Despite the abominably low approval ratings, however, Bush has stood by his plan in the occupation in Iraq, telling reporters that U.S. forces were “making progress” in the war, building up the Iraqi army and finding other ways to counteract the violence.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denied suggestions that Iraq was in a civil war, but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers told reporters at the same Pentagon briefing that the country is at a “crossroads.”