Saturday, January 07, 2012

Bomb attacks on Shiites kill 72 as fears rise Iraq is imploding

Iraq has today been hit by another wave of bomb blasts - killing at least 72 people.

The explosions, which struck two Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad, have intensified fears Iraq is about to implode as insurgents step up attacks after the U.S. troop withdrawal last month.

A suicide bomber also killed 45 Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Karbala. All the blasts bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents linked to Al Qaeda, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

It follows the killing of at least 69 people on December 22 - when a wave of 16 co-ordinated bombs, claimed by Al Qaeda in Iraq, went off across the capital.

The attacks began when a bomb attached to a motorcycle blew up near a bus stop where day labourers gather to look for work in the Sadr City neighbourhood. Iraqi police said it killed at least eight people.

That was followed by a roadside bomb nearby that killed another person. Police found a third bomb close by and defused it.

Less than two hours later, two blasts struck the neighbourhood of Kazimiyah in the north of the Iraqi capital, killing at least 14 people.

And, a few hours after, a suicide attack hit Shiite pilgrims heading to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, killing 45. The explosions took place near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Officials said the Kazimiyah blasts occurred almost simultaneously, with at least one caused by a car bomb. Hospital officials confirmed the causalities, which included about 60 wounded.

Tariq Annad, a 52-year-old government employee who lives near the scene of the first blast, said: 'I was heading to my work when the strong blast took place. I saw thick black smoke coming from the area. Now, people have real fears that the cycle of violence might be revived in this country.'

The blasts occurred in the run-up to Arbaeen, a Shiite holy day which marks the end of 40 days of mourning that follow the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite figure.
During this time, Shiite pilgrims from across Iraq make their way to Karbala, south of Baghdad.

Baghdad military spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said the aim of the attacks is 'to create turmoil among the Iraqi people'.

Iraqi leaders have warned of a resurgence of Sunni and Shiite militants and an increase in violence following the departure of U.S. troops.

The early morning blasts followed deadly attacks yesterday that targeted the homes of police officers and a member of a government-allied militia.

Those attacks, in the cities of Baqouba and Abu Ghraib outside Baghdad, killed four people, including two children.

The latest violence comes as Iraqi politicians remain deadlocked in a festering political crisis that threatens to reignite simmering sectarian tensions in the country.

Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, dominated by Iraq's majority Shiites, issued an arrest warrant for the country's top Sunni politician last month.

The Sunni official, vice president Tariq al-Hashemi, is holed up in Iraq's Kurdish north - effectively out of reach of state security forces.

Mr al-Maliki's main political rival, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, is boycotting parliament sessions and cabinet meetings to protest against what they say are efforts by the government to consolidate power and marginalise them.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am shocked.....who could have seen this coming?

11:02 PM  

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