US military predicts more violence in Iraq

The U.S. military predicted Thursday that violence would increase around Iraq as final results from last month's elections are released and political groups forge ahead with forming a new government.

Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition force, said that a series of "horrific attacks" that left at least 500 people dead since the Dec. 15 elections were an indication that insurgents were trying to seize the opportunity of a transition to a new government to try destabilize the democratic process.

"As democracy advances in the form of election results and government formation, and as the military pressure continues, and the pressure generated by political progress increases, we expect more violence across Iraq," he said at a news briefing.

Final election results are expected to be released early next week.

Alston said the recent attacks were part of an "attempt to discredit and derail the progress of the Iraqi people"

At least 121 people died last week in twin suicide attacks against a shrine in the southern Shiite holy city of Karbala, and at a police recruiting center in Ramadi. A day earlier, at least 32 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a Shiite funeral in Muqdadiyah, north of Baghdad. Another 29 died in a Monday attack against the Interior Ministry in the capital.

At the same time Alston denied allegations by leading Shiite politicians that the United States had restricted the ability of Iraqi security forces to deal with insurgents.

In the meanwhile Sunni Arabs have complained that often brutal methods used by Interior Ministry forces have already pushed Iraq to the brink of sectarian war. Hundreds of abused prisoners have recently been discovered, mostly in prisons operated by the Interior Ministry - prompting complaints from U.S. officials, the AP reports.


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