May 4, 2012.
A bout of violence in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala has prompted fears of a resurgence of the kind of sectarian conflict that once wracked the country.
On April 26, a double bombing hit a cafe owned by a Shia man in the village of Abu Garma in northern Diyala, killing ten people and wounding 17 others, all of them Shia Arabs.
The Islamic State of Iraq, an Islamic group regarded as a branch of al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility in a statement posted on a jihadist website, saying it was revenge for the “Sunni prisoners and detainees” held in government jails.
In the early hours of the following day, gunmen with silenced weapons broke into a 45-year-old Sunni widow’s house in the same village and shot her dead, together with her three children aged between ten and 15.
Dlir Hasan, deputy head of Diyala’s security committee, told IWPR he believed al-Qaeda carried out both attacks in a deliberate attempt to stir up conflict. Its tactic was, he said, to “target both sects in the province and make Sunni and Shia feel they’re under attack from each other”.