Updated at 12:58 p.m. EST, Dec. 27, 2009
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are in Karbala to participate in the climax of Ashura observances. Despite increased security, attacks kept some pilgrims from reaching the holy city. At least 16 Iraqis were killed and 51 more were wounded across the country. Also, U.S, Army Maj. Gen. John Johnson asked Iraq to treat Awakening Council members fairly.
In a bid to help national reconciliation, Maj. Gen. John Johnson called on the Iraqi goverment to treat members of the Awakening Councils fairly. These Sunni fighters turned against al-Qaeda and came under the authority of the U.S. until last year when they were handed over to the Iraqis. The Iraqi government promised to pay their salaries and eventually find them other jobs, either civlian or military, however, the fighters have regularly complained of delayed or missing salary payments and other forms of harassment. They feel the Iraqis will not honor their committment to the fighters, who are regularly targeted by al-Qaeda. In some cases, Awakening Council members have been accused of crimes and arrested.
In Baghdad, three people were killed and 16 more were wounded at a tent providing food and drinks to Shi’ite pilgrims traveling through the New Baghdad neighborhood. A bomb in Fadhiliya left three dead and six wounded. Another refreshements tent suffered a grenade attack; six were wounded there. In what may be a fourth attack, five people were wounded during a blast at a Zaafaraniya petrol station. Gunmen killed a lieutenant colonel. A late evening bomb killed one person and wounded 10 others in Abu Dsheer. Gunmen wounded a policeman and killed his wife in Mansour.
A Sunni tribal chief was killed when a bomb exploded out side his Abu Ghraib home.
In Fallujah, a police lieutenant general was killed when a bomb planted in front of his home blasted him. A civilian man was killed during another blast; however, it is unclear whether these are separate events.
A bomb near a mosque in Touz Khormato killed one policeman and wounded seven others.
No casualties were reported after a rockets attack on Delta Base near Kut.
A motorbike ban was imposed on Kut for the Ashura observances.
Tal Afar has declared a state of emergency ahead of Ashura. No casualties were reported after a bomb blasted a visiting politician’s motorcade.
U.S. forces have made themselves available in Karbala should any need arise.
In Mosul, a suspected al-Qaeda leader was arrested.
Iranian forces quietly remain at the Fakka oil field.