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Updated: May 22, 2013 20:59 IST

Iraqi premier orders army shake-up after attacks

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Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. AP File photo
Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. AP File photo

Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a shake-up of his military command after a week-long spike of militant attacks that has killed nearly 300 people, by far the highest toll since the U.S. withdrew its forces in late 2011, an official said on Wednesday.

The shake-up will include commanders of divisions and operations, said Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Moussawi.

It indicates the depth of the Prime Minister’s dissatisfaction with the military for failing to keep the peace in the country, which is instead hurtling downhill toward the brink of sectarian civil war. As premier, al-Maliki is the commander in chief of the armed forces.

The military shake-up follows the surge of car bombs and shootings that have shaken many Iraqi cities over the past week, killing at least 279 people and further raising tensions between Sunnis and the Shiite-led government. The escalation echoes the carnage of Iraq’s worst sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

Brothel attack

In another development, militants broke into a brothel on Wednesday afternoon in Baghdad’s eastern Zayona neighborhood, killing 10 women and four men, a police officer said. The gunmen sped up in five cars and were armed with pistols fitted with silencers, the officer said.

Police said the attack appeared to be on a religious background, with Muslim extremists attacking the brothel for moral reasons.

The blitz coincides with Sunni-organized protests over complaints of discrimination by the Shiite-led government. Beginning in December, the Sunni protests started out largely peaceful. However, the number of attacks rose sharply after a deadly security crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23.

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