Nearly a million Sadr supporters descended on Basra to join an annual gathering that marks the end of the Saddam regime. Meanwhile, at least nine Iraqis were killed and 56 more were wounded in new violence. A series of evening attacks troubled the ethnically diverse Diyala province.
As many as a million of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s followers gathered in the southern city of Basra observe the ninth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Sheikh Assad al-Nassari, reading a statement authored by Sadr, told the crowd to demand their rights and decry the poor services Iraqis have endured since the 2003 invasion. Iraqis still suffer from a lack of adequate supplies of basics such as clean water and electricity. Some of the protesters demanded jobs.
The yearly demonstration had been taking place April 9th, the anniversary of the fall of Saddam, but this year it was moved up perhaps due to next week’s Arab League meeting in Baghdad. Except for the Iraqi premier, all the leaders arriving for the gathering will be Sunni. Some believe this demonstration, while not attacking any foreign leaders, was a show of Shi’ite strength.
After nine years in detention, Iraq freed former Saddam financial minister Mohammed Mahdi Salih. He was cleared of charges last year.
In Baquba, a bomb near a police station wounded 16 people, including four policemen. A sticky bomb killed one person. Gunmen killed a policeman and wounded four others.
A bomb in Balad Ruz killed one person and wounded 12 more, including four children.
A car bomb in Mandali wounded 13 people.
Near Baquba, a sticky bomb killed a civilian.
A blast in Falluja killed one policeman and wounded four more.
In al-Tabbana, one person was shot dead.
A judge was killed in a blast in Jurf al-Sakhar.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a soldier.
A bomb killed a high-ranking police officer in Abu Ghraib.
A bomb in Muqdadiya wounded four people.
Gunmen wounded three people at a coffee shop in Mussayab.