The first major attacks against Shi’ite pilgrims observing Shabaniya occurred today in cities south of Baghdad. At least 63 people were killed and 152 more were wounded in those and other attacks.
The festival climaxes on Friday, the birth anniversary of Twelfth Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi, so more violence is possible in the coming days. The number of foreign pilgrims killed or wounded was not given. Also, due to the nature of the attacks, conflicting figures are likely.
Iraq has downplayed a surge in violence that has been noticeable for weeks. In June, some attacks were also directed at pilgrims observing a separate Shi’ite holiday but, as today, violence did not spare security and other civilian targets. Over 500 people were killed last month.
At least 40 people were killed and 75 more were wounded in a truck bombing at a Diwaniya market that is close to a Shi’ite mosque where pilgrims had gathered. At least two security personnel failed to prevent the vegetable-laden truck bomb from reaching the market. Authorities suspect bribes may have been paid.
At a market in the outskirts of Karbala, six pilgrims were killed and at least 44 were wounded. Several of the injured are in critical condition. The first blast drew people to a second bomb. Security had been heightened ahead of the pilgrimage.
Near Buhriz, two security officers were killed and two more were wounded in a small arms attack. The bodies of two people who were shot in the head were found in a field. A bomb killed two civilians. Three military personnel were wounded in a blast yesterday.
An attack left one policeman dead and one wounded in Tuz Khormato.
Gunmen killed a married couple at a shop in Kirkuk.
In Baghdad, one civilian was killed and five others were wounded at the Nida mosque.
A bomb in the Ghazaliya district wounded three civilians.
Two policemen were wounded during clashes with smugglers in Sinjar.
Two gunmen were wounded as they attacked a county boardmember’s home in Hib Hib.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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