Recent waves of attacks in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Mosul have left at least 11 dead and 20 wounded. One of the attacks left three dead in a shooting spree in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Several other attacks occurred in the city of Mosul, one of which was a car bomb, killing three policemen and one soldier.

Such violence has been persistent in recent years, with some of the worst appearing recently since the peak of 2006/7. On 20th May at least 70 died in a spate of car bombings, and 23 more just a day later.

Sectarian tensions are a factor in the deadly attacks that have plagued Iraq. This has been labelled as the reason for the recent spike in violence. Following the establishment of a Shia-led government, Sunni groups have protested, demanding they be granted their own federal region. They claim they face violence and arrests from the Shia-led government.

Prime Minister Maliki has responded to the protests, claiming he will consider approving the demands of Sunni protesters, and provided assurances that he will do everything in his power to calm sectarian tensions.

The true scale of the violence, and the challenges ahead of Prime Minister Maliki, becomes clear when faced with the data. Violent incidents have escalated from 300 a month at the end of 2010 to 1,100 a month today. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has said April of this year was the bloodiest since June 2008; 712 were killed and 1,600 wounded, sparking fears the violence is nowhere near to slowing.

Some critics have suggested the recent violence is a result of America’s war in Iraq, which began in 2003. Hundreds of billions of dollars was spent by the US government in what they claimed was aimed at removing authoritarian leader Saddam Hussein. Sources suggest that over a million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of this war, prompting claims that this is the cause of the violence being witnessed today.