Killings of civilians in Iraq constitute 'war crimes'
Amnesty International has condemned the killings of over 100 Iraqi civilians in suicide bomb and other attacks mounted by armed groups in and around Baghdad in the last week.Hundreds were injured in the attacks, some of which appear to have targeted civilians and to have been intended to cause maximum loss of life."Most of these attacks targeted civilians directly and therefore constitute war crimes," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme."If the attacks are part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population in Iraq in furtherance of a particular organization or armed group's policy, they also constitute crimes against humanity.""War crimes and crimes against humanity are among the most serious crimes under international law. These attacks must be stopped immediately and those responsible must be brought to justice."Coordinated bomb attacks in several Baghdad districts on Tuesday destroyed seven apartment buildings and left at least 35 people, possibly all civilians, dead and more than 140 other people injured.On Monday, a Shi'a couple and four of their children were assassinated in their house outside Baghdad.Three suicide car bomb attacks on Sunday targeted the Iranian, German and Egyptian embassies in Baghdad and resulted in the killing of at least 41 people. More than 200 others were injured.On Friday, armed men attacked a pre-dominantly Sunni village, south of Baghdad killing 24 people.No armed group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but Iraqi politicians have attributed at least some of them to al-Qa'ida in Iraq and its allies.This latest upsurge in violence appears to be exploiting the political vacuum that now exists in Iraq as leaders of the major political groups have so far failed to garner enough support to form a government following the 7 March elections which did not produce a clear winner."Deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified," said Malcolm Smart."Those perpetrating such attacks must desist from such crimes. They must be brought to justice but without resort to the death penalty; use of the death penalty serves only to further brutalize Iraqi society."