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U.N.: Violence creates air of hate in Iraq

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The senseless violence in Iraq continues to create a climate of hate and sectarianism, the United Nations says.

Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said in a statement the situation in Iraq has left hundreds of civilians dead.

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"These devastating attacks create a climate of hate and sectarianism," Matsuura said Monday.

Journalists have also suffered tremendously, Matsuura added, as 161 media personnel have so far lost their lives in the war-ravaged nation.

Thursday saw the single-largest display of violence since the war began. The assault in the mainly-Shiite Sadr City area of Baghdad killed more than 200 people, primarily civilians.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the U.N. role "is defined by the Security Council and any change in our role would have to be decided by them."

Another U.N. official also joined in condemning the upsurge in violence.

Ashraf Qazi, the secretary-general's special representative in Iraq, attributed the violence in most parts of the country to a vicious cycle of sectarian revenge-motivated killings.

Qazi urged the government, political leadership and the people of Iraq to "demonstrate an urgent and sincere determination to save their country."

Concerted efforts by the international community and neighboring countries like Iran and Syria, Qazi said, would be necessary for the government and people of Iraq to address challenges of violence, mistrust and divisions which threaten their society.

Meanwhile, anticipation increases for the Iraq Study Group, led by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, which will be presenting results of its inquiry by year's end.

Annan was reported to have had a "discussion" Monday with members of the group.

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