An expected surge in violence accompanying a major Shi’ite religious observance this week began early this morning. Hilla and Baghdad were the hardest hit cities. Across the country, at least 36 people were killed and 121 more were wounded in all reported attacks. Also, the Iraqi government said that a former top diplomat under Saddam Hussein will be executed next year. Meanwhile, security for American diplomats has been tightened.
Updated at 11:51 a.m. EST, Dec. 13, 2010 While Ashuraa observances may be dampening reports of violence, two significant attacks made the headlines, including one against Shi’ite pilgrims participating in an Ashuraa procession. At least 22 Iraqis were killed and 91 more were wounded in those attacks and two others.
Updated at 8:19 p.m. Dec. 8, 2010 At least four Iraqis were killed and 23 more were wounded in the latest violence. Seven Iranian pilgrims were also wounded in an attack while on their way to Karbala for Ashuraa observances. That holiday, which unintentionally marks the schism between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, culminates next week and could mean an increase in violence, particularly for Iranian pilgrims. Also, A U.S. soldier died of wounds received during a sniper attack.