Iraq: more Shi’ite pilgrims killed; more terror in Kirkuk

Suicide bombers struck Shi’ite pilgrims in Baghdad and a Kurdish rally in Kirkuk July 28, killing at least 57 people and wounding nearly 300, police said. Three female bombers detonated their explosive vests in the middle of a group of pilgrims in Baghdad, moments after a roadside bomb attack. At least 32 were killed and wounded 102. In Kirkuk, 25 were killed and 185 wounded when a blast tore through a crowd of Kurds protesting against a draft provincial elections law. Authorities said the Kirkuk bomber was also a woman. (Gulf Daily News, July 29)

At least a million people are expected to take part in the Shi’ite pilgrimage in Baghdad, which marks the death of Shia’s revered imam Musa Kadhim. The day before the blasts, gunmen killed seven pilgrims in Madin, a town south of Baghdad. (Canberra Times, July 29)

The Kirkuk attack targeted a rally to protest a draft provincial elections law that is being debated in Iraq’s parliament. Kurdish objections over a proposed power-sharing formula on Kirkuk’s provincial council have blocked the law. The rally was called by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). (AFP, AP, July 28)

Although the Kirkuk attack bore all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda-type Sunni Arab jihadists, Kurds took the bombing as an excuse to attack the local Turkmen population, attacking Turkmen political offices and setting their buildings ablaze. When Turkmen guards opened fire, at least 12 Kurds were killed. A local Kurdish militia known as the Asaish is reported to have led the attacks on Turkmen targets. After the fracas, the head of the Turkmen Front, Saadeddin Arkej, stormed out of negotiations in Baghdad to resolve the legislative dispute. (NYT, July 29)

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