Updated at 10:25 a.m. EST, Feb. 25, 2008
Suicide bombers using the Arbaeen religious observance to attack Shi’ite pilgrims, exacted a heavy toll today in Baghdad and Iskandariya. Meanwhile, fighting continues between Turkish troops and PKK rebels in northern Iraq. Overall, 75 Iraqis were killed and another 166 were wounded. The number of Turkish soldiers and PKK rebels killed is unclear, but could climb into the dozens. Also, two American soldiers were killed in separate incidents.
A suicide bomber stopping at a refreshment tent in Iskandariya killed 63 pilgrims and wounded over 100 there, but figures may climb once the U.S. military confirms the number of casualties. The pilgrims were on their way to Karbala to observe the Arbaeen. The holiday marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, who was the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. It is a major holiday in the Shi’ite religious calendar, and many pilgrims travel to Karbala for observances there. Refreshement tents are scattered throughout Iraq and are meant to help pilgrims while on their journey. The holiday has been the scene of large attacks in the past.
Turkish authorities admitted that eight more soldiers were killed during clashes with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in northern Iraq. They also said that another 33 rebels were killed. Meanwhile, the PKK gave conflicting reports as to the number of dead rebels and soldiers, saying they killed 47 Turkish soldiers and shot down a helicopter. Turkey did admit that a helicopter had become “inoperable.” Due to the geography and climate of the region, claims from either source are unverifiable.
Also, as the Iraqi government asked Turkey to sit down for talks, Iran has tightened security along its border in an effort to prevent rebels from staging attacks from Iranian soil. The Kurdish people live across several countries in the region, and the PKK have members throughout the area; however, many Kurds do not sympathize with this separatist movement because of its radical leftist ideology.
In Baghdad, gunmen attacked a group of pilgrims after using a roadside bomb to create chaos; three were killed and 49 more were wounded as they were traveling through the Doura district. In a separate incident, a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol in Hurriya wounded five Iraqis. An IED in Zafaraniyah injured two Iraqis. Four dumped bodies were also found.
In Mosul, a child was killed during crossfire between gunmen and U.S. forces. In a separate incident, gunmen killed a man and wounded another during a drive-by shooting yesterday. Also, an IED near a bus killed two electrical workers and wounded three more.
A car bomb in Hawija left one Awakening Council member dead and ten others wounded.
U.S. forces killed a suspect and detained four more during operation in central Iraq.
A car bomb found south of Karbala was defused without incident.
Three hostages were freed in Basra.
Fifteen detainees were freed in Fallujah and Garma after authorities were unable to find any evidence against them.
Also, the Vice President al-Hashimi attempted to get more unconvicted detainees released from Iraq’s prison.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis