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Violence flares across Iraq

By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
updated 2:41 PM EST, Tue December 13, 2011
The latest violence raises questions among Iraqis about whether their government will be able to provide proper security.
The latest violence raises questions among Iraqis about whether their government will be able to provide proper security.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • One politician predicts future chaos in Iraq
  • Judges were targeted in Falluja, and a police officer was shot dead in Mosul
  • Two Interior Ministry officials were killed in Baghdad
  • U.S. troops must leave Iraq by the end of the year

Baghdad (CNN) -- Eight people died in Iraq as shootings and explosions targeted judges, security forces and liquor stores over the last 24 hours, police told CNN on Tuesday.

The level of violence is about average for the troubled country, but with U.S. troops aiming to depart Iraq by the end of the year, the incidents raise questions among Iraqis about whether their government will be able to provide proper security.

Gunmen in Falluja attacked a minibus carrying Justice Ministry officials and wounded six people, including three judges, Falluja police said. When police arrived minutes later, two roadside bombs exploded and four people died. Three of them were police officers.

The judges were headed to Ramadi, where they work. One of them is the chief judge of the criminal court there.

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Falluja and Ramadi are in Anbar province west of the capital, Baghdad. Ramadi is the provincial capital.

In the northern city of Mosul, Police Lt. Col. Ayad Mohammed was shot dead by gunmen while he was about to leave his house for work Tuesday, Mosul police said.

In Baghdad, a member of a local Awakening Council was shot dead by gunmen outside his house in the Abu Ghraib district in the western outskirts of the capital, police said. His wife was critically wounded. Awakening Councils are pro-government entities frequently targeted by militants.

Gunmen in Baghdad assassinated two Iraqi Interior Ministry officials in two separate incidents Monday night, Baghdad police officials said.

Gunmen also opened fire on three liquor stores and wounded five people Monday night.

Despite a decrease in overall violence in Iraq, shootings and roadside bombs still occur. In November, nearly 200 Iraqis were killed in violence and more than 300 others were wounded, according to figures released by Iraq's Interior Ministry last week.

Ordinary Iraqis say the violence is largely sectarian, with the once-dominant Sunni Muslims believing Shiites are responsible, and the majority Shiites saying it is the work of Sunni insurgents.

Each group believes it is being targeted by the other.

The United States is pulling out its troops by the end of the year under a bilateral agreement with Iraq.

But Monday, President Barack Obama promised economic, diplomatic and military help to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after the last American troops leave the Middle Eastern nation.

Both Obama and al-Maliki have political reasons for ending the U.S. military presence. Obama pledged during his 2008 campaign to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, while al-Maliki faces internal opposition to the foreign military presence.

More than 4,400 U.S. troops were killed and thousands more were wounded in the war that began in 2003. Iraqi casualties are estimated to exceed 100,000.

American officials have insisted the drastic pullback of troops does not mean an end to the U.S. government's presence in Iraq.

Hundreds of nonmilitary U.S. personnel will remain in Iraq, including 1,700 diplomats, law enforcement officers and economic, agriculture and other professionals and experts, according to the State Department.

In addition, about 5,000 security contractors will protect U.S. diplomats and about 9,000 contractors will serve other roles, such as helping provide food and medical services, until they can be done locally.

Future U.S. involvement in training for Iraqi troops is also a possibility, U.S. officials have said.

But one politician warned of more instability.

Saleh al-Mutlaq, a deputy prime minister, told CNN he thinks the country will be wracked with "chaos," even though Obama said he "will withdraw from Iraqi in a responsible way."

Al-Mutlaq was banned from running in Iraq's 2010 elections when he was accused of glorifying Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. But he was eventually elevated to his current position in a power-sharing agreement.

"America left Iraq with almost no infrastructure, the political process is going in a very wrong direction, going toward a dictatorship. People are not going to accept that and most likely they are going to ask for the division of the country and this is going to be a disaster," he said.

"Dividing the country isn't going to be smooth because dividing the country is going to be a war before that and a war after that."

He said the government's shape is due to Iran's influence. He said al-Maliki is playing games between the United States and Iran, and the United States will realize that it was deceived.

"It was something strange when I heard Obama present (al-Maliki) as the leader of a democratic state," he said.

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