Killing of civilians in Iraq attacks condemned as ‘war crimes’

Amnesty International has condemned the killing of civilians in a series of suicide bombings and shootings by armed groups in Iraq on Monday, which left over 100 people dead and 350 wounded.The attacks on a textile factory, markets and police and army checkpoints were carried out in the town of Hilla, the southern city of Basra, the capital Baghdad and other cities.”Yesterday, was the deadliest day so far this year in Iraq, said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “Some of the attacks appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and to have been intended to cause maximum loss of life. If so, such attacks constitute war crimes. We condemn them utterly. Those responsible must cease these murderous attacks.” “Civilians are continuing to pay a very heavy price for the ongoing divisions in Iraq.””The political vacuum resulting from the failure of Iraqi political leaders to agree on a new government, two months after the 7 March election, is fuelling instability and being exploited by armed groups, in particular al-Qa’ida and its supporters, to cause further mayhem and suffering.”Leaders of the major political groups in Iraq have so far failed to garner enough support to form a government following the national elections, which did not produce a clear winner.Two suicide car bombers drove into a textile factory in Hilla, south of Baghdad on Monday afternoon. A third bomb exploded as rescue workers arrived on the scene. At least 45 people were reported killed and 190 wounded.On Monday evening, three car bombs exploded in Basra – the first in the central market, the other two in a residential area in the north of the city. Reports say that 21 people were killed and more than 70 others were wounded.Earlier on Monday, suicide bombers killed 13 people and wounded 40 in a market place in al-Suwayra, 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Baghdad.The day of attacks started at dawn in Baghdad, when gunmen killed at least seven Iraqi soldiers and policemen when they attacked six checkpoints. Bombs planted at three other checkpoints wounded several more, according to reports.Further attacks in the western province of Anbar, the northern city of Mosul, the outskirts of Baghdad and elsewhere took the death toll to at least 102.On 27 April 2010 Amnesty International published Iraq: Civilians under fire, highlighting the plight of the Iraqi civilian population and the targeting of particular vulnerable groups by armed groups, government forces and others in Iraq.