Two near-simultaneous car bombs ripped through a Baghdad bus station on Feb. 11, killing at least 16 people, amid a flare-up of violence across Iraq that claimed more than 20 lives and left some 60 injured. Officials said the parked cars blew up near the bus station in the Shi’ite district of Bayaah in western Baghdad and that most of the 16 dead and 43 wounded were men—many Shi’ite pilgrims en route to Karbala.
A spate of other attacks, including a suicide car bombing in the northern city of Mosul, killed at least five members of Iraq’s security forces, a Shi’ite pilgrim and another civilian. The pilgrim was killed and eight others were wounded by a roadside bomb in the southern Baghdad district of Zafaraniyah, the officials said. In another attack inside the capital, a civilian was killed and 12 people were wounded, including at least two more pilgrims, in the northern district of Waziriyah. Shi’ite pilgrims have begun travelling on foot to the holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad for the Arbaeen ceremonies.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN chief’s special representative to Iraq, condemned the targeting of pilgrims as a “murderous attack which was clearly designed to provoke sectarian tensions.” The Zafaraniyah bombing came “even though the people of Iraq had clearly indicated through their votes on Jan. 31 that they wish to put that sad phase of Iraqi history well behind them,” he said in a statement, referring to provincial polls which passed without major incident. (Middle East Online, LAT, Feb. 11)