Scores killed in Iraq attacks
At least 93 people killed across the country, many of them Shia pilgrims gathered in Baghdad for a religious event.
At least 93 people have been killed in a series of bombings and shootings across Iraq, with many of the attacks targeting Shia pilgrims during a major religious festival, police and hospital sources say.
One of the deadliest blasts on Wednesday occurred in the Kadhimiyah area of north Baghdad, where tens of thousands had gathered to mark the anniversary of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim’s death.
“A group of pilgrims were walking and passed by a tent offering food and drinks when suddenly a car exploded near them,” said Wathiq Muhana, a policeman whose patrol was stationed near the blast.
“People were running away covered with blood and bodies were scattered on the ground,” he said.
Three other blasts targeted pilgrims in Karada district, raising the total death toll in the capital to at least 30.
The annual pilgrimage sees hundreds of thousands of Shias converge on Baghdad on foot to commemorate the 8th century death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim.
Two nearly simultaneous car bombs also killed seven pilgrims and wounded 34 in the Shia town of Balad, north of Baghdad, officials said.
In the southern mainly Shia city of Hilla, two bombs, including one detonated by a suicide car bomber, exploded outside restaurants frequented by police, killing 22 people and wounding 38.
“When a minibus packed with policemen stopped near the restaurants, a car exploded near the bus,” said Maitham Sahib, owner of a restaurant in Hilla near the blast. “It’s heart breaking. It is just sirens, and screams of wounded people.”
Separately in the capital, three federal policemen were assassinated by unknown gunmen at their checkpoint in Saidyiah district.
Another person was killed in the northern city of Kirkuk when three more bombs exploded, one of them outside the political office of a prominent Kurdish leader.
The attacks made Wednesday the deadliest day in Iraq since 68 people were killed in Iraq on January 5.
The attacks on Shias were the third occasion pilgrims were targeted in a week.
On Sunday at least six people were killed when two mortar bombs struck a Baghdad square packed with Shia Muslim pilgrims.
On Monday, 26 people were killed and more than 190 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-rigged car outside a Shia religious office in the capital.
Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate, Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack on the religious office.
Political tensions have been high in Iraq since the last American troops left in December, with the country’s fragile government, split among Sunni-backed, Shia and ethnic Kurdish blocks, feuding over their power-sharing accord.
Feisal Amin Rasoul Istrabadi, former deputy permanent representative for Iraq to the UN, told Al Jazeera that it time for the Iraqi government to re-investigate a political solution to the conflict.
“Clearly there are people who want to disrupt the state of Iraq, and people who want to disrupt the political process. The larger question to me is: what is the government doing to bring people into the political process?” Istrabadi said.
” […] Are there people who can be brought into the political process as the Americans tried to do in 2007 and 2008 in an attempt to reduce this violence, or are we going to continue to allow the violence to escalate without any sort of attempt at a political understanding in the country?”