|VOICE OF AMERICA|
|SLUG: 2-324369 Iraq / Casualties||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=IRAQ / CASUALTIES (L-ONLY)
HEADLINE: Latest Round of Violence in Iraq Claims More Than 120 Lives
INTRO: At lease 123 people have died in Iraq since the announcement of a new government late last week. Neil MacDonald reports for VOA from Baghdad the latest violence appears to be targeting Iraqi security forces.
TEXT: Early Monday, a car bomb blew up in a Baghdad shopping district, killing six civilians and wounding seven, police said. The blast also set ablaze an apartment building in the upscale area of Karada.
Successive, apparently coordinated attacks began around the capital on Friday -- the day after the elected National Assembly approved Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's partial cabinet list -- and continued for the fourth day straight Monday as another bomb narrowly missed a high-level Iraqi security official.
Much of the violence has been directed at Iraqi security forces, although some attacks have targeted U.S. military convoys, leaving 11 Americans among the dead over the past four days.
But the bloodiest incident came Sunday night, when a car bomb struck the funeral of a Kurdish official in the northern city of Tal Afar.
That attack left 25 dead and more than 50 wounded. U.S. officials suggested that political delays empowered the insurgency, which had appeared to be flagging in the wake of January 30th elections.
Disagreements over how to include the Sunni Arabs have held up the formation of a permanent government -- leading Mr. Jaafari to present a partial list, with himself as acting defense minister.
Following three months of post-election haggling, the defense portfolio is theoretically reserved for a Sunni.
However, members of the Shi'ite-dominated United Iraq Alliance -- the largest bloc in the Assembly -- have ruled out several Sunni candidates on the grounds of links to the former regime of Saddam Hussein.
The gaps in the cabinet have left Iraq's Sunni Arabs -- a largely disaffected community seen as the backbone of the insurgency -- without a meaningful role. Mr. Jaafari's government was supposed to provide a workable ethnic and sectarian balance.
Laith Kubba, an adviser to the Shi'ite prime minister, said the permanent government would be sworn in Tuesday -- after Mr. Jaafari makes permanent appointments for defense and other disputed posts.
Four other ministries still lack permanent ministers, while two out of four proposed deputy prime ministerships also remain empty.
As the wave of bomb attacks continued, security forces reportedly closed the road to Baghdad International Airport -- frequently the scene of car bombs and ambushes. (Signed)
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