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News Link • Iraq

A nation in peril - Iraq's struggle to hold together

• http://news.yahoo.com, Dominic Evans
"Things are really tense and it could get worse," said the 23-year-old Sunni Muslim student. "If the politicians continue as they are doing now, we are on the path to separation."

When Khaled's father was shot dead by Shi'ite gunmen at the height of Baghdad's religious bloodshed seven years ago, his family took shelter in a Sunni neighborhood of the capital.

They made their flight as violence forced apart communities that once mingled in the city. Today the family lives in the Adhamiya district, close to the Abu Hanifa mosque where one of Sunni Islam's most influential theologians is buried.

At his home on an unpaved street, Khaled says he still feels secure in Adhamiya but he rarely goes to the rest of Baghdad where blast walls and security checkpoints hint at the fate of a fractured Iraq.

Iraq's latest - and gravest - crisis erupted when mostly Sunni fighters swept through the north last month. Now the jihadist black flag flies over of most of the country's Sunni Arab territory.

    Kurdish forces, exploiting the chance to take another step towards independence, seized the city of Kirkuk and nearby oilfields, leaving the Shi'ite-led government controlling only the capital region and the mainly Shi'ite south.

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