BAGHDAD, 13 December (IRIN) - Escalating sectarian violence in Iraq since the February 2006 bombing of a revered Shi'ite mosque in Samarra has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of ordinary Iraqis.
This vicious cycle of revenge killings between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims has left few families untouched. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 425,000 Iraqis had been internally displaced since February and more than 3,500 Iraqi civilians are killed every month, according to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
While shootings and bombings occur on a daily basis in the capital, a particularly devastating attack took place on 12 December in the centre of the capital, in Taiyanan Square. A man driving a pick-up truck pulled up alongside a large group of Shi'ite day workers, calling them to him. He then detonated his explosives-packed truck.
The Iraqi police say 70 people were killed in the blast and more than 230 injured.
Kawkab Barakat, 62, lost her two sons in the explosion. Needing sedatives to stay calm, she spoke to IRIN about her tragic loss.
"I lost my only two sons in the explosion. I cannot control the pain. Now I understand what every Iraqi mother who lost their sons feels. They were trying to work to bring food and pay our rent, which is three months late.
My sons were very good people. They were responsible and worked hard to support us. They had many proposals to work with US engineers but refused many times [for fear of being seen as traitors]. But it wasn't enough and those bastards killed them anyway.
I saw the body of one of my dead sons, but for the other they brought me his shoes saying that they could only find pieces of him. What did I do to deserve this? I am a mother and even a decent burial is not possible because my son was blown apart. Allahu akbar! [God is great]"
We are a poor family and the only income for me and my three daughters was that which my sons were bringing to us each day. Their wives and children live with me too. Now we are afraid because we don't know how we are going to feed the children tomorrow. We [the women] have never worked outside. Maybe the only solution is to go in the streets and beg for help."