Updated at 5:03 p.m. EDT, July 17, 2009
At least 12 Iraqis were killed and 68 more were wounded on a busy prayer day. At least six bombings were directed at Shi’ite pilgrims traveling through Baghdad. Separately, three U.S. soldiers were killed during a Katyusha rocket attack at a base just outside of Basra at the airport.
A religious observance in northern Baghdad tomorrow poses new problems for Iraqi security forces. This will be the first major observance after U.S. troops withdrew from Baghdad and other major cities. The anniversary of Musa Bin Jafaar al Kadhim’s death attracts thousands of Shi’ite worshippers to a shrine where the Seventh Imam is buried. About 100,000 Iraqi personnel were deployed to maintain security.
Not only is the shrine often a target for terrorism, the last major bombing took place in April, but just the fear of an attack sent about 1,000 worshippers to their deaths during a stampede in 2005. However, as pilgrims traveled through the Sunni Adhamiya district for the first time since the stampede, they were greeted with cold drinks and shady rest areas.
In Baghdad, a bomb planted under a bridge in Zaafaraniya exploded at 2:30 a.m., killing a married couple and wounding a dozen others. Another bomb wounded eight others in Doura. Five more pilgrims were wounded during a bombing Bayaa. A blast at a billiard’s hall in Amil wounded two people. Three pilgrims were injured during a bombing in Saidiya. A bomb in Niairiyah wounded five more pilgrims. Also, another bomb in Zaafaraniya killed one and wounded six in the evening.
A pair of bombs exploded just outside the home of a Garma police captain. Two people were killed and 11 others were wounded. The dead were the captain’s 12-year-old daughter and six-year-old granddaughter. The captain was wounded.
In Fallujah, nine young men were wounded when their soccer game was interrupted by a bomb blast.
A tribal feud in Samawa left three dead and four wounded. Police arrested 15 people.
Three mechanics were killed in Kirkuk, when a vehicle they were performing maintenance on suddenly exploded. The cause of the explosion was not reported. Gunmen wounded two civilians in separate drive-by shootings.
The body of a young woman was found shot to death in Kut.
A hand grenade attack directed at a police patrol in Hawija instead wounded a civilian.
A vehicle ban was imposed on Tal Afar after police received tips about a possible suicide attack
Five men were arrested north of Basra in Haretha as they were planting a bomb.
Two Naqshabandiya Army members were arrested in Qartaba.
Two rocket launchers were discovered in Amara.
In Baquba, seven suspects were arrested under suspicion of planning attacks against pilgrims.
Basra police arrested two Iranians who illegally entered the country through Shatt al-Arab waterway. Col. Butch Kievenaar, the top U.S. military commander in southern Iraq, said that some Iraqi “extremists” have been returning to Basra from Iran, but also noted that there was no evidence of militant activity from them. Basra was always difficult to control, much of it thanks to a corrupt police forceIn recent weeks, the police have arrested hundreds under what may have been a harassment campaign. Three bombs were also defused.