U.N. secretary-general urges leaders to take action to stem violence in Iraq

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern on Monday at the deterioration of Iraq's security situation, where attacks are becoming commonplace and he urged political leaders to take action to stop the violence.

At least 50 people were killed in a wave of car bombings on Monday in predominantly Shiite areas. The attacks were just the latest in a series of recent violent acts in Iraq.

"(Ban) condemns in the strongest terms the acts of terrorism and the heightened sectarian violence, which are aimed at ripping apart the country's social fabric," Ban's spokesperson said.

Ban expressed deep condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. He urged authorities in Iraq to bring the perpetrators of the violent attacks to justice.

"Iraq is at another crossroads," the spokesperson said. "Its political leaders have a clear responsibility to bring the country back from the brink, and to leave no space to those who seek to exploit the political stalemate through violence and terror.

Ban's spokesperson said the U.N. is ready to help Iraq to get through the crisis.

"The secretary-general urges Iraqi political leaders to address the legitimate grievances of all Iraqi communities by entering into a serious dialogue with a spirit of compromise, and by passing overdue legislation without further delay," the spokesperson said. "The United Nations stands ready to assist the government and people of Iraq in overcoming the crisis."

Gyorgy Busztin, Ban's acting special representative for Iraq, said the recent violence carries the danger that the country could fall back into sectarian strife.