At least 12 Iraqis were killed on Monday in a string of suicide car bombs, drive-by shootings, and roadside bombs, according to Iraqi security sources.
In Baghdad a suicide car bomb exploded near a checkpoint killing three soldiers and three civilians, while two Iraqi construction workers were injured in Al Naossor Square earlier in the day. Four soldiers were also killed in two roadside attacks in Kirkuk, while in Mosul one soldier and one policeman were killed in drive-by shootings.
In the town of Hillah, home to the US embassy in Iraq, five mortar shells were fired a local hotel, leaving a gaping hole in its structure. Monday's attacks come less than one week before Iraq's upcoming national referendum on October 15 where Iraqis will vote on the nation's first constitution draft.
Iraq's constitution has been a divisive point of contention amongst the country's diverse ethnic groups, as Sunni minority groups insist that its text is biased towards Iraqi Shiites and Kurds. Sunnis have demanded a boycott of the referendum and launched attacks which have killed 331 people in the last 15 days, according to the AP.
With the help of US mediation efforts, Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders have been attempting to reach a final draft in recent days which will be more suitable to all parties.
At the heart of the disagreement is the issue of Iraqi federalism that Shiites and Kurds insist on and Sunnis feel will lead to their disenfranchisement by creating oil-rich enclaves in the Kurdish regions in northern Iraq and Shiite regions in the South.
If Sunni turnout in the referendum is substantial, they have the power to defeat the proposed constitution.
The US believes that the constitution will be the corner stone to eventual Iraqi democracy and stability, as well as the withdrawal of foreign troops.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )