Iraq: more Shi’ite pilgrims killed

A suicide car bomber barreled into a flatbed truck packed with some 70 Shi’ite pilgrims March 11, leaving at least 32 dead. The latest attacks followed a week in which hundreds of Shi’ite pilgrims were killed trying to reach the holy city of Karbala for Ashura celebrations. The exodus faces the same risks. Blasts killed at least 15 others in Baghdad, a day after Iraqi officials warned an international conference that the sectarian violence could spread across the Middle East if not quelled. Outside the capital, militants attacked residents and set about 30 houses on fire in the mixed Sunni-Shi’ite city Muqdadiyah, Diyala province, forcing dozens of families to flee. Victims from both sects blamed the “Islamic State of Iraq,” a Sunni militant organization that has taken over several other towns in the area. Residents said the organization had recently demanded money, weapons and oaths of support from the local populace. (NYT, AP, March 12)

See our last posts on Iraq and the sectarian cleansing, and the bloody Ashura.