Updated at 11:51 p.m EST, Jan. 24, 2011
As Arbaeen observances culminate, the violence towards pilgrims continues. At least 29 were killed and 181 more were wounded in attacks across the country, but the deadliest occurred just outside Karbala. While most of the casualties, if not all, were Iraqi, some of the pilgrims may have been foreigners. Meanwhile, new allegations against an elite security force overseen directly by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are surfacing.
Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim, who is in charge of prisons, denied reports that the Counter-Terrorism Bureau is holding detainees incommunicado at Camp Honor in Baghdad. Some of the detainees appear to be political prisoners as one elected parliamentarian has been spotted among them. Amnesty International estimates that about 30,000 are being held without trial, but so long as Iraq maintains secret prisons the true extent will remain unknown. U.S. and Iraqi officials who have toured Camp Honor in the past have said conditions are miserable there and also described evidence of physical abuse. Reports of torture and missing persons are rampant throughout the system, but the Bureau’s elite brigade has also been accused of abuse while conducting a deadly raid in Jubail last autumn, Other possible offenses include the arrests of several politicians and officials. Separately, al-Qaeda prison was discovered near Mosul.
As many as 26 people were killed in a pair of blasts targeting Shi’ite pilgrims traveling to Karbala for Arbaeen observances. About 164 others were wounded in the attacks, which took place in the al-Ibrahimiya and al-Daaom areas just outside the city. In one attack, a car bomb exploded at a parking lot, while the second attack took place hours later. A third explosion was also reported.
In Baghdad, a bomb in the Ghazaliya area killed a brigadier general and wounded an intelligence officer. Eight people were wounded in a blast at a Shula petrol station.
A roadside bomb targeting the Salah ad Din governor failed to harm him, but five bodyguards were wounded in the Tikrit incident.
Gunmen killed a Sahwa member and companion in Riyadh.
In Kirkuk, a policeman was wounded in a knife attack.
A civilian was wounded in Hamdaniya.
Ninewa province has imposed a vehicle ban tomorrow for Arbaeen.