are “spinning out of control.”
Iraq’s most powerful Sunni Muslim party quit talks to form a new government Thursday after reprisal attacks for the bombing of an important Shiite mosque.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called on his countrymen to extinguish the “flames of division” and President Bush denounced Wednesday’s mosque attack as “an evil act.” A U.S. military spokesman said the bombing clearly bears “the signature” of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Amid reports of more than 100 killings since the attack — with many Sunnis among the dead — the Sunni Accord Front announced it is leaving political unity talks after meeting with Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Seven US soldiers killed since yesterday, and, according to which news report you read, either 47 or 100 civilians have been killed in reprisal killings.
Juan Cole has the most detailed coverage,
Shiites came out in the thousands all over the Shiite south on Wednesday to protest. Quoting Sunni Arab spokesmen, the wire services are saying 75 Sunni mosques have been attacked, with two burned to the ground and 3 Sunni clergymen assassinated, with 6 Sunni Arabs dead altoghether in the violence.
In the southern city of Kut, AP says, 3,000 protesters came out to rally against the United States and Israel.
AFP says that 10,000 people in East Baghdad converged on the office of Muqtada al-Sadr, chanting against “Wahhabis” and America.
‘ Large protests erupted in Shiite parts of Baghdad and in cities throughout the Shiite heartland to the south. In Basra, Shiite militants traded rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire with guards at the office of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Smoke billowed from the building.
Shiite protesters later set fire to a Sunni shrine containing the seventh century tomb of Talha bin Obeid-Allah, companion of the Prophet Muhammad, on the outskirts of the southern city. Police found 11 bodies of Sunni Muslims, most of them shot in the head, in two neighborhoods of Basra, police Capt. Mushtaq Kadhim said. Two of the dead were Egyptians, Kadhim said.
Protesters in Najaf, Kut and Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City also marched through the streets by the hundreds and thousands, many shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans and burning those nations’ flags. ‘
The hardline Shiite Mahdi Army has come out of Sadr City and is all over Baghdad. They are clashing with Sunnis in Basra.
What a smashing little war.
The view from a local:
No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isn’t good at all. I don’t think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. There’s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan…
Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.
People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.