Iraq: terror targets Shi’ite pilgrims —again

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)

See our last posts on Iraq and the sectarian war.

  1. Iraq: more pilgrims massacred
    Eight Shi’ite pilgrims were killed and some 50 wounded Feb. 12 when a suicide bomber joined a procession of pilgrims who were gathering near the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala.

    Meanwhile, four police officers were killed by a car bomb in Mosul. In another attack in the northern city, a Sunni politician was shot dead by unidentified gunmen. Abdul-Kareem Khalaf al-Sharabi, deputy leader of the National Dialogue Front in Mosul, was gunned down near his house, reports said. (RTT News, Feb. 12)

  2. Iraq: more pilgrims massacred
    From the New York Times, Feb. 13:

    BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber hiding explosives under her garments killed 35 Shiite pilgrims south of Baghdad on Friday, who were walking in an annual procession to the holy city of Karbala that has often been targeted by extremists. Many of the dead were women and children…

    “Burned corpses were everywhere,” said Abu Islam, 40, who lives near where the explosion took place. “They were mostly kids and women because the bomber targeted the tents of women.”

    More intentional femicide, it seems—and cold water in the face for those who buy claims of advances for women in Iraq.

  3. Iraq: more pilgrims massacred
    From IHT, Feb. 16:

    BAGHDAD — Eight Iraqis, all of them Shiite pilgrims returning from the holy city of Karbala, were killed in two separate roadside bombings in Baghdad on Monday, security officials and witnesses said.

    In the first attack, which took place in the morning, 4 people were killed and 10 wounded when their minibus hit a bomb planted near the busy Hamza Square on the edge of the predominantly Shiite district of Sadr City.

    The bus driver said he was carrying pilgrims returning from Karbala, according to The Associated Press.

    In an almost identical attack in the afternoon, 4 people were killed and 13 wounded when a minibus hit a bomb planted on the main road in the impoverished and mainly Shiite neighborhood of Al Obeidi in northeastern Baghdad.