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Sectarian violence again grips Baghdad

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The number of sectarian killings is on the rise in embattled Baghdad. (Source: CNN) The number of sectarian killings is on the rise in embattled Baghdad. (Source: CNN)
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BAGHDAD (CNN) - The violence now gripping Iraq is what so many people feared and even predicted after the last U.S. forces withdrew from the country nearly three years ago.

The big fear now is that the violence and the bloodshed will get much worse before it ever gets better.

The body count is rising - the sectarian killings, kidnappings, murders, and summary justice at the hands of militias, events many had hoped were a thing of the past are back.

At Baghdad's morgue a macabre movie shows snapshots of the dead for loved ones to identify.

The numbers are nowhere near those of Iraq's dark years.

But the sectarian bloodletting is starting again.

One woman's brother, a father of four, was kidnapped from his home by dozens of unknown gunmen and later found dead - his corpse just one of the many.

Most at the morgue don't want to talk fearing the same fate as the ones they loved.

One of the women who we met inside the viewing room declined to be interviewed. It's her husband who is missing. She was saying that she wanted to be able to identify his body because she did want closure, but at the same time she was dreading it, seeing his image because she still wanted to be able to cling to that very little hope that perhaps he is still alive.

For some, sorrow turns to rage at the U.S. and its president.

"Go tell Obama, Obama the coward, he destroyed it. He needs to fix it,” one woman shouts.

Burning with the pain of loss she continues.

"All you foreigners are cowards. You know how to attack but you don't know how to solve. You attack for your own benefits, to steal so you can live and we can die,” she added.

She later apologizes for her outburst.

She's afraid to speak, believing that those who killed her son were lurking.

She says he was one of six men slaughtered, along with 28 women, by an extremist Shi'a militia.

Police said at the time that the apartment blocks were long believed to house brothels.

The woman says all she knew was that her son and his wife were going to a party and both are now among the dead. Whatever was happening does not excuse the murder.

But Iraq is accustomed to summary justice.

Particularly as the government loses control of Iraq's cities and towns and militia rule returns.

The stench of death is unbearable and morgue officials tell us most of the dead come in unidentified.

But when families claim their loved ones, the grief is overwhelming.

"My darling," the woman says at her son's coffin. "Can you hear me? Your kids are with me. Don't be afraid, I will take care of your kids."

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