Violence In Iraq Down, But Killing Indiscriminate Rather than a war-torn country gripped by an insurgency, Iraq is starting to feel like a Latin American nation, riddled by assassinations and revenge killings. In fact, the murder rate of Guatemala City in 2009 was higher than that of Baghdad.
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Violence In Iraq Down, But Killing Indiscriminate

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Violence In Iraq Down, But Killing Indiscriminate

Violence In Iraq Down, But Killing Indiscriminate

Violence In Iraq Down, But Killing Indiscriminate

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135745223/135745865" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Rather than a war-torn country gripped by an insurgency, Iraq is starting to feel like a Latin American nation, riddled by assassinations and revenge killings. In fact, the murder rate of Guatemala City in 2009 was higher than that of Baghdad.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

But as NPR's Kelly McEvers reports from Baghdad, the violence in Iraq is still unique and troubling.

KELLY MCEVERS: John Drake monitors violence in Iraq for a London-based intelligence and security firm. He says the comparisons between Iraq and Latin American countries are interesting, but they don't tell the whole story.

JOHN DRAKE: Perhaps the difference in risk is that in Iraq, a lot of the killings involve explosive attacks, which are much more indiscriminate.

MCEVERS: In layman's terms, that means...

DRAKE: A lot of injuries. There are hundreds more people injured in Iraq as a result of attacks than, say, somewhere like Mexico.

MCEVERS: It's an impersonal way to describe what happened to college student Karrar Sami Abed(ph). He was about to start a new job at a furniture shop in a neighborhood here in Baghdad. On his way to pick up the key to open the shop, a bomb went off.

KARRAR SAMI ABED: And I see my arm was bleeding, and I can't feel it.

MCEVERS: Drake says Iraq has almost reached a state of post-insurgency, like in Northern Ireland, where after the bombs stopped going off, what remained was a high level of criminality.

DRAKE: There's a lot of impoverishment in Iraq. So people who have the means of conducting attacks to get hold of money, they're not going to be held back by concerns about being tried in a court of law. And they're not going to be too concerned about their civilian casualties either.

MCEVERS: Mainly because they've been desensitized to killing after so many years of violence. Drake says rather than just killing for killing's sake, like terrorists do, many killers in Iraq these days are killing with a purpose.

DRAKE: Now, it's a lot more about political maneuvering and getting key parties in influential positions of power.

MCEVERS: The war is over, Sloboda says. Now, the violence in Iraq is something more like...

JOHN SLOBODA: Low level but very clear and continuing and virulent political violence.

MCEVERS: Even with this new and complicated description, Sloboda warns against comparing Iraq's violence to Latin America's.

SLOBODA: We have not sent troops into Mexico. We sent troops into Iraq. Therefore, what's happening now is a very complex result of a whole range of things, but one of those is our own actions.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING)

MCEVERS: Unidentified Man #1: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Unidentified Man #2: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Unidentified Man #3: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Unidentified Man #3: (Foreign language spoken)

MCEVERS: Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Baghdad.

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