Iraq Just Had Its Deadliest Month in Five Years

Civilians and security forces gather at the scene of a car bomb in the southern Shiite city of Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad on Monday. Civilians and security forces gather at the scene of a car bomb in the southern Shiite city of Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad on Monday. AP

American troops may have finally left Iraq, but for that nation's citizens the war is only getting worse. More than 700 people, mostly civilians, were killed in violent attacks last month, making it the deadliest calendar month since June 2008. Nearly all of those killed were attacked in the capital of Baghdad.

The sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims has escalated in recent months, and the minority Sunnis have turned up the protests of the Shia-led government -- leading to violent confrontations with police. Local elections in the middle of April contributed to the violence, as deadly car bombings became almost routine in Iraq's major cities, and the government has been powerless to to stop the resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is believed to be behind the majority of attacks.

The sudden spike in attacks has also raised fears of a new civil war, as sectarian groups lacking the buffer (and useful targets) of American forces turn their anger and frustration against each other. The Sunnis, who dominated government positions for so many years, have been marganalzied on the government of Shia prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

May has not gotten off to a great start either. Twenty-two people were killed in mulitple attacks on Wednesday, including a gun assault on a police station that killed five officers.

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