Updated at 9:00 p.m. EST, Feb. 15, 2009
At least seven Iraqis were killed and 35 more were wounded in the latest round of violence. Another 18 victims were found in new mass graves. Two U.S. soldiers were killed as well. Meanwhile, the Iraqi election commission concluded that some fraud took place in last month’s elections, but not enough to hold new ones. Also, pilgrims are still piling in to Karbala in the final hours of Arbaeen observances.
The Iraqi election commission admitted that fraud took place in over 30 polling stations across the country. Those results were nullified, but no new elections will take place. The election will be certified this week, when official results are announced. Preliminary estimates show that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s list surged ahead of conservative religious parties. Meanwhile, Kurdish officials played down reports of a dispute among Patriotic Union of Kurdistan members.
Tens of thousands of Shi’ite pilgrims continued to visit the holy city of Karbala despite an escalation of violence this week. Arbaeen ends early Monday, but the violence towards pilgrims could continue as they head home. Iraqi officials said that millions have visited the city in the last few days. Arbaeen marks the end of 40 days of mourning following Ashoura, the holiday that commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. The Imam is buried in Karbala near where he was killed. His death ignited the schism between Shi’ites and Sunnis, so the holidays are magnets for sectarian violence.
The Iraqi army found 10 skeletons in a mass grave in Taji. The grave dates to 2006 when sectarian violence surged. Although many dumped bodies were discovered then, many more people were kidnapped and never heard from again. A day earlier, police found 40 bodies in a nearby grave.
Eight bodies were found near Baquba in Albu Tima village.
One person was killed and 19 others were wounded when a bomb exploded from within a garbage pile in Sadr City. A separate bomb wounded two more people. Also, Baghdad Operations Command said joint U.S-Iraqi forces safely detonated at least five bombs overnight. A sixth explosion was unaccounted for.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a civilian and an off-duty soldier in separate incidents. A bomb planted on a car wounded a member of the Sunni Hadba party. A hand grenade lobbed at a police patrol wounded three civilians instead. A roadside bomb wounded a policeman. A soldier was wounded in another roadside bombing. Six suspects were captured. Also, police discovered a suspected al-Qaeda prison, where torture and executions are believed to have taken place.
Gunmen killed two policemen and wounded two others in Muqdadiyah.
One person was killed and three more were wounded during a blast in Mandali.
Gunmen killed a man who was recently released from Camp Bucca prison.
A new crackdown in Basra netted 32 suspects.
Two suspects were captured near Karbala.
Ten suspects were detained across Diyala province.
Fourteen suspects were captured in Missan province. A hostage was freed.
Security personnel in Kirkuk detained a suspected revolutionary group leader.
A suspect accused of killing three officers was captured near Tikrit.
Four were arrested on charges of terrorism in Dhi Qar.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis