A massive bombing against a Shi’ite target in Baghdad left over 200 people dead and injured. The blast may be part of an effort to fuel sectarian tensions that are already high due to the political atmosphere surrounding a Sunni purge and the possible recall of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It also comes just a day after Iraqis celebrated the birth anniversary of Imam Ali. Overall, at least 34 people were killed and 200 more were wounded across Iraq today.
In Baghdad, a morning car bombing killed 26 people and wounded 190 more outside a Shi’ite Endowment (waqf) office in Bab al-Muadham district. Authorities believe a suicide bomber working for the al-Qaeda-connected Islamic State of Iraq militant group set off the explosives. The blast caused massive material damage (video) as well.
The Endowment is a semi-government organization that manages Shi’ite religious affairs and cultural sites. Another bomb, this one at a Sunni Endowment office, was discovered before it could explode. The Sunni Endowment council condemned the attack on the Shi’ite waqf.
Because the office had received threats related to a dispute over the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, Endowment Deputy Chief Sami al-Massudi believes the attack was meant to re-ignite sectarian bloodshed. A February 2006 attack at the shrine itself, which is one of the holiest in Iraq, severely damaged the building. Although no one died in that bombing, hundreds of Iraqis were slaughtered in the retaliatory attacks that followed. Massudi said the Endowment had recently infuriated their Sunni counterparts by asserting their right to manage the Shi’ite shrine.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the attack comes as Iraqis celebrated the birth anniversary of Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib, who was a cousin and son-in-law to the Prophet Muhammad. A disagreement over his role in Islam is a source of the split between Shi’ites and Sunnis.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi army has begun to withdraw troops stationed in Baghdad. They will complete the transfer of security to police by the end of the month.
At a policeman’s home in Falluja, bombs killed three civilians and wounded four others. Several homes in the area were damaged.
A bomb targeting a patrol in Dujail left three dead and three wounded.
In Baquba, gunmen killed a Sahwa members and wounded two family members.
A retired military officer was killed and his son was wounded when gunmen attacked them in Qayara.