About 40 people were killed and 50 wounded in an apparent suicide bomb blast in the Iraqi Shi’ite holy city of Karbala Jan. 5. The explosion occurred in an area between the two main Shi’ite shrines in the city. Many of the casualties were street vendors and visitors to the Imam Hussein shrine, one of the holiest for Shi’ite Muslims. Shi’ite pilgrims often make their way to Karbala on Thursdays to be at the holy site for prayers the next day. The last large-scale attack in Karbala occurred in December 2004 when 14 were killed and 57 wounded by a car bomb. (CBC, SBS, Jan. 5) The Iranian official news agency IRNA reports that four Iranian nationals were killed and 13 injured in the Karbala blast.
Forty minutes after the Karbala blast, a bomber in Ramadi waded into a crowd of about 1,000 men and ignited a suicide vest as the men waited to be interviewed for jobs as police officers. The blast killed more than 50 and wounded at least 60.
Hours after the bombings, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, accused both Sunni Arab political parties and the United States of responsibility for the last two days of massacres.
Sunni Arab groups that have warned of potential civil war “bear the responsibility for every drop of blood that was shed,” said Hakim, whose party is the most influential in the governing coalition. He said “pressure” from US forces had impeded the Interior and Defense Ministries from “doing their job chasing terrorists and maintaining the souls of innocent Iraqi people.”
“We’re laying the responsibility for the blood of innocents shed in the past few days on the multinational forces and the political powers that declared publicly their support for terrorism,” he said. “Our people will not be patient for much longer with these dirty sectarian crimes.” (NYT, Jan. 6)
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