At least 460 people died in sectarian and political violence in Iraq during the month of April, Agence France-Presse reports on Wednesday, documenting yet another surge in violence in a country still reeling from years of war and conflict brought on by the U.S. led invasion a decade ago.
The AFP figures were released on May 1, a day on which another 15 people were killed in a series of bomb blasts across Iraq, police and medics said—showing the upsurge in violence was sadly undeterred by the start of a new month.
The majority of April deaths occurred after April 23, "when security forces moved on Sunni anti-government protesters near the northern Sunni Arab town of Hawijah, sparking clashes that killed 53 people," AFP reports. A massive Sunni protest movement has been growing since late last year in opposition to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who protesters say has been suppressing Sunni rights in favor of the country's Shi'ite majority.
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Other factors have been blamed for the upsurge in violence, such as the Syrian civil war, which has been commonly categorized as a conflict between Sunni rebels and the ruling regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam—which some suggest has put a strain on Sunni/Shia relations in the region.
Figures from Iraq Body Count show that the number of Iraqi deaths in April was the highest monthly toll since 2009.
In addition to the dead, violence in April also wounded 1,219 people, according to the AFP figures.