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Vice President Says Prime Minister To Blame For Iraq Crisis

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi

Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi says Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is to blame for the latest surge of violence in the country.

Hashimi, in an interview with the BBC's Arabic service, said Maliki started "a national crisis, and it's not easy to control."

On December 22, more than a dozen bomb attacks in Baghdad killed at least 69 people and sparked fears of renewed sectarian conflict in Iraq.

Hashimi said that "Iraqis have a right to be worried." He said Maliki was chasing "patriotic politicians" instead of focusing on security.

Maliki has asked for Hashimi's arrest on charges that he orchestrated attacks on politicians and security forces.

Hashimi denies the allegations and is holed up in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiyah bloc is boycotting Maliki's power-sharing government and parliament.

Hashimi has previously compared Maliki's style of government to that of Saddam Hussein.

compiled from agency reports