Iraq: seven months of unrest and political crisis

Iraq has seen an upturn in deadly sectarian violence and protests since late last year:


- December 23: The start of major demonstrations in several provinces demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite accused by opponents of monopolising power and sidelining Sunnis.

Demonstrators are demanding the liberation of prisoners and a reform of anti-terrorism laws. The action follows the arrest on terrorism charges of nine guards of Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, a Sunni and member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc.


- January 16: A wave of attacks across the country leaves 49 dead and 240 injured, notably in two cities in the north at the heart of a bitter dispute between the central government and the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

- February 8: A spate of car bombs in Shiite areas kill at least 33 people, as tens of thousands of Sunni demonstrators demand the ouster of the prime minister. Attacks spiral, leaving more than 100 dead in one week.

- February 28: The government says it has freed 4,000 prisoners since the beginning of 2013, in an apparent bid to placate protesters in Sunni areas of the country.

- March 19: A wave of attacks and explosions, mainly in Shiite neighbourhoods in and around Baghdad, kill 56 people and injure more than 220.

- April 15: Dozens of attacks across Iraq, including a brazen car bombing on the way to Baghdad airport, kill 50 people.

- April 23: The beginning of a new wave of clashes which leave more than 240 dead in a week. The violence breaks out when security forces enter an area where Sunni demonstrations have been held since January near Hawijah, west of Kirkuk province's eponymous capital. Revenge attacks ensue on Iraqi forces.

- May 17: Bombs targeting Sunnis, including two near a mosque and one at a funeral procession, kill 67 people, after dozens died in two days of attacks on Shiites.

- May 27: Attacks in the Baghdad area and northern Iraq, mainly targeting Shiite areas, kill 58 people.

- June 10: A wave of violence, mostly aimed at Sunni security forces, kill at least 73 people.

- July 2: A wave of attacks, mostly targeting Shiite Muslims, including a spate of market bombings, kill 57.

- July 16: A UN envoy says that nearly 3,000 people have been killed in Iraq in four months and that the country risks stumbling onto a "dangerous path" to disarray.

- July 20: A wave of bombings kill more than 60 people in Baghdad province.

- July 22: Militants attack two Iraqi prisons, freeing at least 500 inmates in assaults that cost more than 40 lives, officials say.