Maliki holds on to security option despite its failure
BAGHDAD – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed Wednesday that security forces will keep up a campaign of mass arrests and targeting of militant camps to counter Iraq's worst outbreak of violence since 2008.
He said more than 800 alleged militants had been detained and dozens of others killed in multiple operations, the latest announcement by authorities of efforts to tackle spiralling violence that has left more than 3,400 dead since the start of 2013.
"The operation that we started in chasing terrorists, and those who stand behind them, will continue until we protect our people," the premier said in remarks broadcast on state television.
He said security forces had destroyed militant infrastructure used to make car bombs and seized a large amount of weaponry and explosive materiel.
The premier did not, however, specify when the arrests were made, where the operations took place, or who had carried them out.
Security forces have for weeks been carrying out wide-ranging operations in the Baghdad area and north and west of the capital after brazen July jailbreaks claimed by an Al-Qaeda front group.
Hundreds of inmates were freed, among them some said to be senior militants.
Despite the regular announcements of the killing or capture of fighters, violence still roils the daily lives of Iraqis.
Two people were killed in violence on Wednesday, bringing to 285 the number of fatal victims of attacks through just two weeks of August.
Overall, 3,424 people have been killed so far this year, according to a tally, with the United Nations reporting still higher figures and pegging the violence as the deadliest to hit Iraq since 2008.
Violence has increased markedly since January, with analysts saying the upsurge is driven by anger among the Sunni Arab minority that the Shiite-led government has failed to address, despite months of protests.