In last year’s bombing, alleged Sunni Muslim extremists associated with Al Qaeda overwhelmed the mosque’s guards and rigged explosives in a manner to bring down the dome—one of the landmarks of modern Iraq. The response was a frenzy of Shiite revenge. Militias linked to the main Shiite political parties in the Iraqi government carried out a wave of killings and destruction against Sunni communities. As many as 100 Sunni mosques were bombed and thousands of people were slaughtered by death squads. Shiite members of the Iraqi army and police either permitted or joined in the atrocities. Sunni extremists responded with murders of their own and suicide bombings, which indiscriminately targeted Shiite civilian areas.
Sectarian killings peaked in late 2006, when over 3,000 people were being murdered a month. The United Nations estimates that over 600,000 Iraqis of both denominations fled their homes from February to the beginning of 2007 to escape from the violence being perpetrated by rival religious fanatics.Read More