Daily Revolt

October 19, 2007

Iraqi Violence Moves South

Peace is not at hand:
Amid reports of mounting Shi'a infighting there, officials in the Southern city of Diwaniyah, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, say that not only Iran but other neighboring countries in the Gulf may be involved in stoking the violence. Two incidents this week have ratcheted up their concern. On Wednesday, seven Iraqi police officers were killed by a bomb in the nearby village of Afak. That followed bloodshed on Monday, when at least six civilians were killed and dozens wounded in a mortar barrage on the Polish-run Coalition base in town.

Such spectacular incidents overshadow the almost daily clashes between the rival Shi'ite militias that inevitably kill and maim civilians. Diwaniyah now nearly rivals Basra as a vicious free-for-all in the growing civil war among the Shi'a. While none of the recent fighting can be directly linked to any outside group, local security officials say that they can now add to the list of troublemakers elements of al-Qaeda and other Sunni Arab fighters, who appear to be taking advantage of the chaos to regain a toehold in the region and accelerate the flow of Shi'a blood.

Diwaniyah's Iraqi security chief, Sheik Hussein Hadi al Buderi, said at least 50 "Afghans," local slang for Iraqi or foreign Sunni militants trained abroad for jihad, have recently "penetrated" the town. "Yes," he said, "there is a presence of al-Qaeda now in Diwaniyah."

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