Head of police says deadly attack on checkpoint indicates “al-Qaeda cells” are reactivating across Iraq.
|Among those targeted were Shia Muslim pilgrims en route to Arbaeen rituals in the city of Karbala [Reuters]|
A series of attacks across Iraq have killed at least 19 people and left more than 60 wounded.
Monday’s attacks include bombings targeting Shia Muslim worshippers en route to a shrine in the city of Karbala, south of Baghdad. The worshippers were travelling from the Iraqi capital to take part in the Arbaeen rituals later this week.
At least seven people were killed when a car parked near a market exploded in the northern al-Shaab district of Baghdad. Three police officers were among those killed, authorities said.
Another car bomb exploded inside the parking lot of a Shia mosque in the al-Mowasalat district of south Baghdad, killing five and injuring at least 32 others.
In Owairij, a town just south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting devotees walking in the direction of Karbala killed one and wounded another nine, according to defence and ministry officials.
On the outskirts of the central city of Hilla, a car bomb wounded 15 Afghan pilgrims, three of them seriously, police and medics said.
The festival of Arbaeen later this month marks 40 days after the Ashoura anniversary commemorating the killing of Imam Hussein, one of Shia Islam’s most revered figures, by the armies of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD.
Afghan Shias are still reeling from Ashura days attacks targeting worshippers last month in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
As part of the Arbaeen ceremonies, Shia pilgrims walk to Karbala from across Iraq. Devotees also descend on the city from around the world.
Attacks on Shias in Baghdad and southern Iraq on Thursday killed 70 people and wounded more than 100, the highest death toll since August, as a row between the Shia-led government and the main Sunni-backed bloc escalated sectarian tensions.
Attacks across country
Meanwhile, in Iraq’s north, an attacker opened fire on Monday in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk on a group of security officers from the nation’s autonomous Kurdish region. Two police officers died and another two people were left wounded, according to a police officer.
The police officer said the assailant was killed in return fire.
Mohammed Abdullah, a Kirkuk doctor, said the city’s hospital had received the bodies of the two officers killed, and another unidentified dead body, believed to be that of the attacker.
In Fallujah, a city formerly known as a base for anti-US fighters, a roadside bombing left one Iraqi soldier dead and wounded another three people, army Lieutenant-Colonel Yassin Mohammed said.
In another incident, armed men burst into the home of a manager for the Commercial Bank of Iraq in the Iraqi capital’s central district. Authorities are still uncertain why Fatma Tayyiq, a branch manager, and her husband were shot dead in Karrada.