KUT, Iraq, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- A surge in violence in Iraq is a sign that Shiite militias are joining forces with Sunni-dominated al-Qaida networks in the country, local officials said.
Attacks in August rocked once-secure areas of Iraq, including the cities of Kut and Basra in the Shiite south of the country. The attacks targeted Iraqi security officials, leaving more than 60 dead.
Shamel Mansour Ayal, the head of the provincial council in Wasit near the Iranian border, said he had evidence to suggest Shiites were working with al-Qaida.
"It is unfortunate but we understand that some Shiite people are involved with and support the work of al-Qaida," he told the Emirati newspaper The National from his offices in Kut.
Meanwhile, Mullah Nazim Jabouri, a former al-Qaida fighter and current member of the Sunni-led Awakening movement, said Shiite militants were simply looking for money.
"Al-Qaida and these groups operate more for money than on a set of principles," he said. "A number of Shiite figures turned to work with al-Qaida and ordinary Shiite citizens are, too."
Al-Qaida in Iraq had targeted Shiites in the country since the militant presence grew in response to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Ayal, however, blamed the political vacuum in Baghdad for pushing many Shiites toward violence.