Annan warns of rising Iraq violence

After a brief lull, violence in Iraq has spiked again to pre-election levels, something the country's new government must address quickly, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said.

    Kofi Annan has warned of strife between Sunnis and Shia

    The scale and sophistication of attacks are on the

    rise, worrying signs as Iraq's new leaders prepare to take

    power, said Annan on Thursday in his latest report to the Security Council about Iraq.

    Earlier on Thursday, a bombing at a Shia mosque

    killed 47 people, and on 28 February, a car

    bomber killed 125 people, mostly Shia police and National

    Guard recruits.

    Iraqis will expect security and living conditions to

    improve now that their elections are complete, Annan said.

    But the government and multinational forces must tread

    carefully, he said. "

    Particular care should be taken by those responsible for

    ensuring security to see that their actions do not

    adversely affect the civilian population," Annan wrote in

    the report.

    Post-election hope

    The rise in violence is troubling because many Iraqis and

    outsiders had expressed hope that the election would help

    reduce the fighting and were encouraged by the lull

    afterwards.

    On Thursday, a blast at a Shia
    mosque killed at least 47 people

    Annan reviewed UN actions over the past three months.

    His report praised the 30 January

    election, saying the vote offered a new opportunity for

    Iraqis to build a democratic country.

    The next step will be crafting a constitution. Annan said

    his special representative, Ashraf Qazi, was meeting

    Iraqis to promote dialogue as they go about drafting the

    constitution.

    It is up to the new government to make sure the population

    feels it can participate in the country's reconstruction.

    Soon after the report was released on Thursday, Iraq's main

    Shia party and a Kurdish bloc said they reached a deal

    that sets the stage for a new government to be formed.

    The deal between the clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance

    and a Kurdish coalition will allow a new government to be

    named when the National Assembly opens next week.

    Annan warned of the possibility of still more strife

    between Sunnis and Shia, saying it was

    crucial to seek reconciliation now rather than let

    simmering unrest boil over into a wider conflict.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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