BAGHDAD — Attacks in Iraq showed no signs of respite Sunday as new data confirmed a months-long surge in violence that has sparked fears the country is edging back towards all-out war.
The latest figures released by the United Nations showed more than 800 people died in August, with authorities aiming to combat the spike in attacks since the start of 2013 with wide-ranging security operations targeting militants.
Analysts and diplomats, however, have urged the government to implement broad-reaching reforms in order to placate anger in the Sunni Arab community, which they say is the root cause of the bloodshed.
Violence continued to hit Iraq on Sunday, with six people killed in attacks north of Baghdad, including a car-bomb attack targeting a Shiite Muslim mosque in an ethnically-diverse town, officials said.
Two people were killed and 16 wounded by the car bomb against the Imam Ali mosque in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, while three others died in a bombing in the predominantly-Shiite town of Dujail.
The northern province of Nineveh also suffered attacks, with a gunman killed in clashes with the Iraqi army and two policemen wounded by a bomb.
The UN's mission to Iraq, meanwhile, said 804 people were killed and 2,030 wounded as a result of violence in August, a decline from July's figure of 1,057 dead, but still one of the highest monthly death tolls this year.
"The impact of violence on civilians remains disturbingly high, with almost 5,000 civilians killed and 12,000 injured since the beginning of 2013," said the UN's deputy special envoy to Baghdad, Jacqueline Badcock.
According to the UN's figures, violence was worse in Baghdad, but the predominantly-Sunni provinces of Salaheddin, Nineveh, Diyala and Anbar also suffered high levels of violence.
Figures compiled by AFP put the toll for August at 693 dead and 1,768 wounded.
Government figures, which are typically lower than those released by the UN as well as those tallied by AFP, put the toll last month at 356 dead, plus 87 militants killed by security forces.
The worst of last month's violence struck on August 28 when 71 people were killed in a spate of attacks in Baghdad and nearby towns claimed by an al-Qaida front group.
Iraq has seen a marked rise in the level of violence this year, coinciding with demonstrations by the Sunni minority against alleged ill-treatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government and security forces.
Diplomats and analysts say the lack of meaningful reforms addressing Sunni grievances gives militant groups linked to al-Qaida room to recruit fighters and carry out attacks.
Officials, however, say security forces have dismantled militant training camps and bomb-making sites, arrested hundreds of alleged insurgents and killed dozens of others in recent weeks.
In addition to persistent security problems, the government has also failed to provide adequate basic services such as electricity and clean water, and corruption is widespread.
Political squabbling has likewise paralyzed the government, which has passed almost no major legislation in years.
© AFP 2013