Iraq's Sunni-Shiite tensions worsened yet again today when a suicide bomber killed at least 53 Shiite pilgrims marking a holy day, reports Reuters. The bomber, dressed as a police officer, struck at a checkpoint in Basra. No claims of responsibility yet, but it bears the hallmarks of Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda, which is trying to capitalize on the sectarian chaos, notes the New York Times.
It also comes in the shadow of Sunni-Shiite tensions at the political level, notably playing out in the feud between Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Sunni vice president. “The main goal of these attacks is igniting the sectarian violence,” says a member of Iraq's parliament from Basra. "But I don’t think the sectarian violence will return because people know what the insurgents are trying to do." (Read more Basra stories.)