Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - Printable Version
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Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - 1871 - 06-17-2012 07:27 PM
Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed
AFP | 14 hours ago
Residents gather at the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad, June 16, 2012. Double car bombs targeting Shi’ite pilgrims in Baghdad killed at least 26 people on Saturday in the latest attacks by insurgents trying to tip Iraq back into widespread sectarian violence. — Photo by Reuters
BAGHDAD: Two car bombs in Iraq’s capital killed at least 26 people Saturday on the last day of a Shiite pilgrimage already hit by multiple bombings.
The blasts, one in a heavily guarded area close to a revered shrine, raised the week’s death toll to more than 100 and cast further doubt on the divided government’s ability to secure the country after the American withdrawal.
Black plumes of smoke filled the sky over Baghdad’s northern Kadimiyah neighborhood, where the shrine to eighth-century saint Imam Moussa al-Kadhim draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.
One of the bombs tore into throngs of people who packed the streets nearby, carrying aloft symbolic coffins and beating their chests in mourning to mark his martyrdom.
Three days before, nearly two dozen coordinated bombs around the country killed 72 people. Al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate on Saturday claimed responsibility for that attack, which marked one of the deadliest days in Iraq since the last US troops left in December.
The fierce wave of bombings targeting Shiites suggest that the al Qaeda-allied Sunni militants are stepping up their periodic attacks, which recently have come every few weeks, to try to exploit sectarian cracks in the elected government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and possibly spark another round of the violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war only a few years ago.
The sheer number of blasts during the al-Kadhim pilgrimage shows the ability of al Qaeda to retain and perhaps rebuild its bombings networks despite heavy blows struck to the organization by US forces and allied Sunni militias prior to the American withdrawal.
The bombers’ ability to penetrate so close to the shrine indicates the challenges faced by Iraq’s security forces in securing huge religious gatherings.
“Those behind the attacks, they’ve become more determined now and see more of an opportunity because of the dysfunctional political process,” said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center and an analyst on regional politics.
The government is now split on mostly sectarian lines and over what critics say are al-Maliki’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.
Sunni and Kurdish politicians say he is trying to increase his power at their communities’ expense.
While the wholesale violence between Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods and villages that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007 has all but disappeared, the political tension has fostered a growing sense of pessimism.
“It’s a fairly bleak picture right now,” Shaikh said. He added, “This is quite depressing, considering we are approaching a decade since the initial invasion into Iraq.”
The US hailed the invasion it led in 2003 to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein over his suspected weapons of mass destruction program as an opportunity to set up a model democracy in the Middle East.
The US troops left an elected government behind when they withdrew, but it still cannot provide basic services like reliable electricity.
Saturday’s bombings highlighted the relative weakness of Iraq’s security forces, unable to stop the attacks despite throwing up roadblocks, banning motorcycles and putting tens and thousands of police and soldiers around the city.
After the explosions came grumblings that those measures were insufficient.
“There is no real security, no real searches,” said Mohamed Ali, who witnessed the first bombing in Shula, where authorities a few hours later were towing away the burned remains of a car.
“Today is an exceptional day all security forces must be on high alert.”
The first car bomb went off just after noon, hidden in a taxi parked among a group of other cabs along the procession route.
It killed 14 people including two policemen and wounding 46 others, a police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
An hour later, a second parked car exploded in the Kadimiyah neighborhood itself, about five kilometers (three miles) from the al-Kadhim mosque. At least 12 people were killed and 26 were wounded, the police official said.
It was unclear how the car had penetrated the tight ring of security thrown up around Kadimiyah after Wednesday’s multiple bombings. Police and soldiers had been searching vehicles and people at checkpoints leading into the neighborhood for days.
Despite the latest violence, Saturday’s commemorations for al-Kadhim continued.
The crowds swayed and sang along with music played over the mosque’s loudspeakers and bands of men formed circles to dance and wail, throwing their hands in the air as they cried out for the imam. On the sidelines, people used hoses to spray water on the crowds to relieve summer heat that reached 47 degrees Celsius.
17 June 2012, 15:33 (GMT+05:00)
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A police officer and a policeman were killed and 26 people wounded in two bomb attacks in Iraq's Salahudin province on Sunday, Xinhua reported quoting provincial police source as said.
One of the attacks occurred in the morning when a booby-trapped car went off near a gas station in central the city of Shirqat, some 120 km north of the provincial capital city of Tikrit, killing a policeman and wounding 24 people, including seven policemen, a source from Salahudin's operations command told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In a separate incident, a roadside bomb struck a police vehicle near the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 90 km east of Tikrit, killing a police officer and wounding another officer and a policeman, the source said.
Salahudin province is a Sunni-dominated province. Its capital city Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein.
Violence and sporadic high-profile bomb attacks are still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease in violence since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.
RE: Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - YaelTheGreat - 06-17-2012 07:47 PM
Quote:cast further doubt on the divided government’s ability to secure the country after the American withdrawal.
Didn't horrible shit like this happen all the time when America was there too?
RE: Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - 1871 - 06-17-2012 08:47 PM
of course. its commenting on the ability of the government to secure a peace in Iraq now. there hasnt always been sectarian divisions;( population is divided among
three main ethnic groups—the Sunni Arabs (about 20 percent of the population),
Shiite Arabs (about 60 percent) and Kurds (between 15 percent and 20
percent), - during the 1920 Iraqi revolt there was a unity between these groups resisting British rule at that time - up to 1932 when there was the kingdom of iraq - so in the run up to that there was a nationalist discourse and unity within that context. but its a big subject. the shia were persecuted under saddam. then the invasion,etc, etc.
they could learn a lot from the irish who had several hundred years of this. a national unity is the only way.
RE: Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - YaelTheGreat - 06-17-2012 08:53 PM
Well, the Irish didn't have the deep religious divide that Iraq now has.
RE: Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - Younes - 06-17-2012 08:56 PM
But on the other hand, I doubt any country had the deep religious unity Iraq once enjoyed and that many Iraqis wanna return to.
Iraq is safer nowadays, such attack should only be credited to extremists which not many don't agree.
RE: Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - YaelTheGreat - 06-17-2012 08:59 PM
But it still happens often. Safer than when an Imperialistic nation invaded is not saying much.
RE: Last day of Iraq pilgrimage hit by bombs: 26 killed - 1871 - 06-17-2012 09:02 PM
re ireland -oh - no yael they did - the plantation of ulster after the defeat and what is known as the flight of the earls which was the end of the old gaelic order (at least for a while lol) settled ulster - circa - 1600- northern ireland in particular with british - mainly scots who were protestant - the irish were catholic.
over time of course there were protestant irish - wolf tone a nationalist was irish and protestant but the divide was generally;
unionist and protestant
nationalist and catholic
- not strictly, but mainly those that are republicans are typically Catholic and those that are loyalists are typically Protestants.
and mainly people who politically dont go one way or other. some are obsessed with the divide along - supposedly - ethnic lines.