Turkey condemns Iraq bombings, concerned over increasing attacks
Turkey has strongly condemned the bombing attacks in Sunni areas of Baghdad and surrounding areas on Friday, killing at least 76 people in the deadliest day in Iraq in more than eight months. Ankara said in a statement on Sunday that it is deeply concerned over the increasing number of attacks lately, urging restraint. The major spike in sectarian bloodshed heightened fears the country could again be veering toward civil war. The attacks followed two days of bombings targeting Shiites, including bus stops and outdoor markets, with a total of 130 people killed since Wednesday. Turkey expressed condolences to the victims of the terrorist attacks. Tensions have been intensifying since Sunnis began protesting what they say is mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government, including random detentions and neglect. The protests, which began in December, have largely been peaceful, but the number of attacks rose sharply after a deadly security crackdown on a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq on April 23. The majority Shiites control the levers of power in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Wishing to rebuild the nation rather than revert to open warfare, they have largely restrained their militias in the past five years or so as Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaeda have frequently targeted them with large-scale attacks. Ankara described its war-torn southern neighbor as a "friend and neighbor" country despite strained ties throughout the past year and said it attaches importance to the unity, integrity, peace and stability of Iraq. Turkey said it strongly reiterates its solidarity with the Iraqi people in their fight against terrorism. Friday was the deadliest day since Sept. 9, 2012, when 92 people were killed. The attacks on Sunnis came after two days of car bombs targeting Shiite areas in Baghdad and other attacks that left 33 dead on Wednesday and 21 dead on Thursday. The violence against a Sunni Muslim house of worship represented a trend that has been on the rise. About 30 Sunni mosques have been attacked from mid-April to mid-May, killing more than 100 worshippers. It also comes against the backdrop of the civil war in neighboring Syria that also has taken on sectarian undertones and frequently spilled across the border.