Updated at 8:20 p.m. EST, Feb. 5, 2010
The culmination of the Arbaeen pilgrimage today saw dozens more casualties among the ten million pilgrims who traveled to Karbala for the religious holiday. At least 46 Iraqis were killed and 169 more were wounded there and elsewhere. A Syrian man was also killed. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reminded U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill not to exceed his authority in regards to a controversial elections blacklist.
After recent U.S. support of an Iraqi appeals court decision that struck down a controversial elections blacklist, P.M. Maliki warned Ambassador Hill not to overstep his authority in Iraqi politics. Maliki, who stands to gain from the secret blacklist, wants to see it put into effect and called on parliament to hold a special debate on the matter; however, if implemented, the blacklist could ignite more sectarian violence, such as that targeting Shi’ite pilgrims during the Arbaeen observances. The ban is said to target candidates who once belonged to the outlawed Ba’ath Party.
A coordinated bomb attack left at least 41 dead and 154 wounded east of a Karbala entrance that saw a significant attack two days ago. Either two car bombs or two mortar rounds exploded near the entrance in the Qantara al-Salam neighborhood, sending hundreds of Shi’ite pilgrims running towards a suicide car bomber who then set off more explosives. Although conflicting figures are often reported after massive bombings, the source of today’s confusion may be a second attack within the city. Mortars reportedly killed or wounded 46 pilgrims in Bab Touireg as well. Those casualties are counted in the main figure.
In Baghdad, a blast struck a bus carrying Shi’ite pilgrims on the Mohammed al-Qassim Highway, killing one and wounding 13 others. The Zayouna neighborhood was sealed off after gunmen shot and wounded a pilgrim returning from Karbala.
No casualties were reported in a foiled bombing attack in Basra. Gunmen apparently tried to use a mentally ill man in a suicide bombing.
One Syrian suspect was killed during clashes with police near Rabeaa.
Tal Afar has banned vehicles among as well as taken other security measures to protect pilgrims.
Police in Anbar released 28 detainees after a judge cleared them of all wrongdoing.
For the first time, the U.S. Labor Department‘s monthly unemployment figures include the rates for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Vets who served since September 2001 suffer a 12.6 percent unemployment rate, which is considerably higher than the 10.4 rate non-vets are experiencing.