May 2013 Iraq attacks

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May 2013 Iraq attacks
Part of Iraqi insurgency (post-U.S. withdrawal)
Location across Iraq (see maps below )
Date 15–21 May 2013
Target Shia and Sunni civilians, Iraqi security forces
Attack type
Car bombings, suicide bombings, roadside bombings, mortar attacks, shootings
Deaths 449 [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
Non-fatal injuries
732 [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

From 15 to 21 May 2013, a series of deadly bombings and shootings struck the central and northern parts of Iraq, with a few incidents occurring in towns in the south and far west as well. The attacks killed at least 449 people and left 732 others injured in one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence in years. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.



From a peak of 3,000 deaths per month in 2006–07, violence in Iraq decreased steadily for several years before beginning to rise again in 2012. [8] In December 2012, Sunnis began to protest perceived mistreatment by the Shia-led government. The protests had been largely peaceful, but insurgents, emboldened by the war in neighboring Syria, stepped up attacks in the initial months of 2013. [9] The number of attacks rose sharply after the Iraqi army raided a protest camp in Hawija on 23 April 2013. [10] Overall, 712 people were killed in April according to UN figures, making it the nation's deadliest month in five years. [9] [10]

Syrian Civil War Ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria

The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought between the Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other in varying combinations.

The 2013 Hawija clashes relate to a series of violent attacks within Iraq, as part of the 2012–13 Iraqi protests and Iraqi insurgency post-U.S. withdrawal. On 23 April, an army raid against a protest encampment in the city of Hawija, west of Kirkuk, led to dozens of civilian deaths and the involvement of several insurgent groups in organized action against the government, leading to fears of a return to a wide-scale Sunni–Shia conflict within the country. By 27 April, more than 300 people were reported killed and scores more injured in one of the worst outbreaks of violence since the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011.

Hawija Place in Kirkuk Governorate, Iraq

Hawija is the centre of Al-Hawija District in the Kirkuk province of Iraq, 45 km west of Kirkuk, and north of Baghdad. The town has a population of about 100,000 inhabitants.

Post-Hawija targets have included both Sunni and Shia mosques, as well as security forces and tribal leaders. According to Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie, the deputy head of Iraq's Sunni Endowment, at least 29 Sunni mosques were attacked between mid-April and mid-May, resulting in the deaths of at least 65 worshippers. In contrast, only two Shiite places of worship were attacked during the same period, with a single person being killed. During the whole of 2012, a total of 10 Sunni mosques were attacked, signifying a recent increase in the sectarian nature of the insurgency. [11]


On 15 May, a total of nine car bombs struck the capital Baghdad, killing 23 people and injuring 108 others. All of the attacks targeted Shia civilians, with bombs exploding at a bus stop in Sadr City, as well as locations in Kadhimiya and New Baghdad. [1] A pair of bombs detonated near government offices in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing 10 people and injuring 13 others, while 2 policemen were injured in a roadside bombing outside the city. A roadside blast in Mosul killed 2 policemen and injured another. A suicide bomber struck a checkpoint in Tarmiyah, killing 2 policemen and injuring 8 others. [1] Mortar shelling killed a soldier in Akashat, near the border with Syria, while a bombing in Hammam al-Alil killed 2 soldiers and wounded 3 others. Blasts in Baqubah and Muqdadiyah killed a civilian and injured 5 others. Unidentified gunmen killed 2 Sahwa militiamen in Mehraijiya. [1]

Baghdad Capital of Iraq

Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. The population of Baghdad, as of 2016, is approximately 8,765,000, making it the largest city in Iraq, the second largest city in the Arab world, and the second largest city in Western Asia.

Sadr City District of Baghdad in Baghdad Governorate, Iraq

Sadr City, formerly known as Al-Thawra (الثورة) and Saddam City, is a suburb district of the city of Baghdad, Iraq. It was built in 1959 by Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qassim and later unofficially renamed Sadr City after Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr.

Kadhimiya neighbourhood in Kāẓimiyyah, Baghdad, Iraq

Al-Kāẓimiyyah or al-Kāẓimayn (الكاظمين) is a northern neighbourhood of the city of Baghdad, Iraq. It is about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the city's center, on the west bank of the Tigris. Al-Kāẓimiyyah is also the name of one of nine administrative districts in Baghdad. Being the place of Masjid al-Kāẓimayn, even before its inception into the urban area of Baghdad, it is regarded as a holy city by Twelver Shi'ites.

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Attacks continued at a similar pace on 16 May, with 40 people killed and 107 injured across the country. In Kirkuk, a suicide bomber attacked a mosque where the memorial service for the victims of the previous day's bombings was taking place, killing 12 people and injuring 36 others. A separate bombing in the city killed 2 children. [2] In the capital Baghdad, a car bombing killed 9 people and injured 28 others in Sadr City, while gunmen shot dead the brother of an Iraqiya party member and injured 2 of his bodyguards. Other attacks in the Kamaliya, Bayaa and Chkok neighborhoods killed 6 people and wounded 24 others, all of them civilians. [2] Four bombings struck Mosul, killing 2 soldiers and injuring 13 others, including 5 members of the security forces. Bombings in Tarmiyah and Shirqat killed 4 police officers and injured 4 others. In addition, gunmen shot dead an employee of the civil defense agency in Fallujah. [2]

Mosul City in Iraq

Mosul is a major city in northern Iraq. Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, Mosul stands on the west bank of the Tigris, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank. The metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the "Left Bank" and the "Right Bank", as the two banks are described by the locals compared to the flow direction of Tigris.

Al-Shirqat District District in Salah ad Din, Iraq

Al-Shirqat District (Arabic:الشرقاط) is a district of the Salah ad Din Governorate, Iraq. The district's capital is the town of Al-Shirqat. Other settlements include Khanugiyah, Mukhayim, Huriyah al-Jadidah, Al-Khadraniyah, Aynah, Ijamasa, and Jamaf. The ancient site of Assur is also located in the district.

Fallujah City in Al Anbar, Iraq

Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly 69 kilometers (43 mi) west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries.

Violence rose sharply on 17 May, as most of the incidents appeared to target Sunnis in apparent retaliation for previous attacks against Shiites. Twin bombings struck Baqubah, with the first bomb exploding as worshippers were leaving the town's main Sunni mosque after attending morning prayers. As people gathered to help the wounded, a second explosion occurred, inflicting even more damage than the first. At least 43 people were killed and 80 others were injured in the attacks, which were the second deadliest to ever hit the city after a July 2004 bombing at a police recruit center that killed 68 people. [10] [3] "I was about 30 meters from the first explosion. When the first exploded, I ran to help them, and the second one went off. I saw bodies flying and I had shrapnel in my neck," reported an eyewitness. [9] The attack continued a trend of targeting Sunni mosques; about thirty were attacked between mid-April and mid-May. Baqubah was an important center for the insurgency during the height of the Iraq war and was declared to be the center of operations for the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006, before US troops moved in and forced the group to relocate. The city was the site of major attacks in 2004, 2008 and 2010. [10] [12]

Baqubah Town in Diyala, Iraq

Baqubah is the capital of Iraq's Diyala Governorate. The city is located some 50 km (31 mi) to the northeast of Baghdad, on the Diyala River. In 2003 it had an estimated population of some 467,900 people.

2004 Baqubah bombing

The 2004 Baqubah bombing occurred next to a local market and a police station on 28 July 2004, in Baquba, Diyala Governor, targeting civilians that were lined up waiting to sign up as police volunteers. According to witnesses, a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the queue outside the building and detonated the explosive charges. The force of the blast was huge and destroyed a minivan that was parked nearby, killing all 21 people inside. A total of 68 Iraqis perished in the attack and scores more were wounded. The city of Baqubah went on to become an important center for the Iraqi insurgency and was declared to be the center of operations for the Al-Qaeda in Iraq in late 2003 - early 2006, then it became a major location for Islamic State of Iraq, before US troops moved in and forced the group to relocate. It was the site of almost daily incidents, including major attacks in 2004-2005, 2008 and 2010.

Islamic State of Iraq Salafist jihadist group in Iraq (2006-2013)

The Islamic State of Iraq was a militant Salafist jihadist group that aimed to establish an Islamic state in Sunni, Arab-majority areas of Iraq during the Iraq War and later in Syria during the Syrian Civil War.

Later in the day, a roadside bomb killed 8 people and injured 25 others in Madain, a town 12 miles south of Baghdad, near Salman Pak. [10] [9] The bombing targeted a funeral procession for a Sunni cleric who was killed the previous day. [9] [3] In the capital Baghdad, twin car bombs in Ghazaliya and Baladiyat killed 8 people and wounded 33 others, before a powerful bomb rocked a shopping center in the upscale Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah during evening rush hour. The blast killed 21 people and injured 32 others, and it was followed by another explosion in the southern Dora district that left 4 people dead and 22 wounded. [3] In Fallujah, 40 miles west of the capital, an explosion at a cafe killed 2 civilians and injured 9 others. [3] [10] Gunmen shot dead a candidate for the Nineveh provincial council in Qayara, as well as an inspection department employee and his cousin in Kirkuk. In addition, a woman's body was found with gunshot wounds near Mosul. [3]

Large bombings were absent on 18 May, as 40 people were killed and 25 injured nationwide, mostly in smaller attacks. These included a car bombing in Latifiya that left 5 dead and 10 injured, and an explosion at a stadium in Ramadi that killed 4 and wounded 12 others. [4] North of Ramadi itself, a woman and her three children were killed during an Iraqi Army raid. Two local tribesmen were killed and another injured in clashes that took place after the raid, while unidentified gunmen kidnapped 10 Sunni policemen nearby. [4] Two blasts in Mosul killed 3 soldiers and wounded 5 others, while gunmen killed a policeman. Five Sahwa militiamen were killed and another wounded after attacks against checkpoints in Garma and Khalis. [4] A rocket attack killed 3 soldiers and injured 4 others in Hammam al-Alil. Suicide bombings in Tal al-Ruman and Tal Abta wounded 4 soldiers and a police officer. Gunmen killed three people in Jubail and injured a senior military officer in Qaim. [4] An explosion at a mosque in Madain injured four worshipers, while a Sunni cleric was assassinated in the southern city of Basra. [4]

Small arms attacks continued on 19 May, with the primary targets being members of the Iraqi Police. The bodies of six of the policemen kidnapped near Ramadi the previous day were discovered on a highway in Anbar Province, while another officer was shot dead by gunmen nearby. Armed insurgents attacked checkpoints in Haditha and Rawa, killing 17 policemen and injuring 2 others. [5] A councilman's home in Rawa was also targeted - seven attackers died during the assault. [5] Three civilians were shot dead in Mosul, while a roadside blast killed another and injured two children. In the capital Baghdad gunmen attacked a cafe in Dora, killing 2 and injuring 5, while a blast in the east of the city killed one person and injured 5 others. [5] Twin explosions in Fallujah injured two officers and two civilians. One man was killed and another injured in Riyadh, as they were apparently working on a motorcycle bomb. A married couple was killed in Khalis, while a gunshot-riddled body was discovered in a canal in Iskandariya. [5] Bombings in Abu Ghraib and Shirqat injured five people. A farmer and his son were kidnapped near Samarra. [5]

Violence reached a new peak on 20 May, with at least 133 killed and 283 injured across the country. [6] Ten seemingly coordinated bombings rocked the capital Baghdad, killing 48 and injuring 154 others. The blasts took place in the Shoala, Shab, Ilam, Kamaliya, Zaafaraniya, Kadhimiya, al-Shurta and Saba Bour districts and targeted marketplaces and crowded areas along shopping streets. Two separate explosions were reported from Basra as well, killing 13 and injuring 50 others in rare attack in the southern port. [6] Security forces attempted to rescue kidnapped policemen in Anbar Province, sparking a firefight that left 12 officers dead and 4 others injured. A bomb exploded near a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims in Balad, killing 14 people and wounding 13 others. A blast near a recruitment center in Samarra killed 13 Sahwa members and injured 9 others. In Hillah, a car bomb was detonated at a Shi'ite mosque, killing 12 and wounding at least 26 others. [6] Attacks in Rawa and Zgerdan left 12 policemen dead and 3 others wounded. Three separate blasts in Mosul injured 7 people, including 2 Iraqi soldiers. Mortar fire struck a home in Tal Afar, killing a civilian and injuring another. A similar attack killed another person and injured 4 others in Baqubah. [6] A suicide bomber attempted to assassinate a Sahwa leader in Baiji, injuring him and two others and killing two of his bodyguards. A car bombing in Rutbah killed one and injured 4, while a sticky bomb in Tikrit killed a married couple and injured their child. A roadside explosion injured three people in Jalawla. [6]

Attacks continued across central and northern Iraq on 21 May, with 60 people killed and 132 others injured across the country. [7] In Abu Ghraib, a car bomb near a Sunni mosque killed 11 civilians and injured 21 others, while an ambush left 4 Sahwa members and 2 others wounded. [7] A bombing killed 6 and injured 18 others in Baghdad's Dora district, while double blasts in Tuz Khormato killed 5 and injured 46. A bomb also ripped through a livestock market in Kirkuk, killing 6 people and wounding 26 others. [7] Gunmen shot dead 5 people in Mosul, including a soldier and 2 police officers, and injured 4 others. Three civilians were killed and three others injured after a blast in Baqubah, while two roadside bombs in Kanaan killed three others. A Sunni couple was killed by gunmen in Khalis, while two policemen were injured after a clash near Jalawla. At least five other deaths were reported from Diyala Province. Gunmen injured two policemen in Karmah, while a blast in Ramadi killed one of the organizers of the Anbar protests. [7]

The spate of attacks heightened fears that violence would continue to rise due to retaliation back and forth between Shias and Sunnis. [10] No group claimed initial responsibility, though such widespread and coordinated attacks have mostly been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq in the past. [9]



Talal al-Zobaie, a Sunni member of the Iraqi Parliament, called on his colleagues to unite and face the enemies of Iraq together. "The government should admit that it has failed to secure the country and the people, and all security commanders should be replaced by efficient people who can really confront terrorism. Sectarianism that has bred armies of widows and orphans in the past is now trying to make a comeback in this country, and everybody should be aware of this.", he said in a statement released to the press. Jawad al-Hasnawi, a lawmaker with the Sadrist Movement, loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said he believed the pattern of attacks was not coincidental, and terrorist groups were trying to reignite sectarian tensions in Iraq. "But the government bears full responsibility for this security chaos and it has to take quick and serious measures in order to stop the bloodshed, instead of just blaming other political blocs. Today and yesterday, the Iraqi people paid for the failure of government security forces. Everybody should expect darker days full of even deadlier attacks.", Al-Hasnawi added. [13]


See also

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Bombings Continue in Baghdad, Kirkuk; 40 Killed". 16 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Retaliation Against Sunnis Leave 90 Dead, 201 Wounded Across Iraq". 17 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Forty Killed Across Iraq; 13 Kidnapped in Anbar Province". 18 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Iraqi Police Targeted As Attacks Claim 44 Lives". 19 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Monday Mayhem: 133 Killed, 283 Wounded in Iraq". 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Sixty Killed, 132 Wounded in Ongoing Iraq Carnage". 21 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  8. Kareen Raheem (15 April 2013). "Bombs kill more than 30 across Iraq before local poll". Reuters. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Two blasts at Iraqi Sunni mosque kill 43". Reuters. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Deadliest day in months as bombs strike Sunni areas in Iraq, killing 76". Fox News. AP. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  11. Attacks against mosques and husseiniyahs stoke Iraq fears of sectarian strife. Middle East Online.
  12. "Scores killed in Iraq bomb attack". BBC. 28 July 2004. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  13. Bombs targeting Sunnis kill at least 76 in Iraq (The Journal). (9 September 2012).
  14. GCC condemns recent surge of violence in Iraq.
  15. OIC condemns "terrorist" attacks in Iraq. KUNA.
  16. Iraq: UN envoy urges political leaders to help end bloodshed following latest bombings (UN News Center).
  17. Daily Press Briefing – 16 May 2013. US State Department (16 May 2013).