News / Middle East

Iraq Car Bomb Kills at Least 20 Shi'ite Pilgrims

Pilgrims pray at Imam Hussein shrine during the Shi'ite religious ceremony of Arbaeen, holy city of Karbala, Iraq,Jan. 2, 2013.
Pilgrims pray at Imam Hussein shrine during the Shi'ite religious ceremony of Arbaeen, holy city of Karbala, Iraq,Jan. 2, 2013.
VOA News
Iraqi authorities say a car bomb has killed at least 20 Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims on their way home from a religious procession in the country's south.
 
Police said Thursday's attack at a busy bus station in the town of Musayyib hit the pilgrims as they were returning from Iraq's shrine city of Karbala, where they performed mourning rituals for a revered figure in Shi'ite Islam. Dozens were wounded in the bombing.
 
  • A destroyed vehicle is towed from the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad's Karrada district, Iraq, December 31, 2012.
  • A resident is seen behind the broken windshield of vehicle after a bomb attack in Baghdad's Karrada district, Iraq, December 31, 2012.
  • Iraqi Federal police search Shi'ite pilgrims marching to Karbala for Arbaeen in Baghdad, Iraq, December 31, 2012.
  • Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims walk to the holy city of Karbala to mark Arbaeen in Baghdad's Doura district, Iraq, December 31, 2012.
  • Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims walk to the holy city of Karbala to mark Arbaeen in Baghdad's Doura district, Iraq, December 31, 2012.
Bombings Kill 23 in Iraq
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has renewed fears of an increase in sectarian violence that could further destabilize the country.
 
The blast comes just days after a wave of bombings across the country killed 23 people. Insurgents blew up several houses in the town of Musayyib on Monday, killing seven people. Bombings also killed people in Baghdad, Hillah and Kirkuk.
 
Minority Sunni militants have targeted majority Shi'ite pilgrims frequently. Those militants also appear to be exploiting sectarian tensions in the ruling coalition of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is under political fire.
 
Sunni protesters have held more than a week of anti-government protests in the western province of Anbar, demanding an end to what they see as Maliki's marginalization of their community and its representatives in his Shi'ite-led coalition.

Shi'ite religious observation
 
Arbaeen marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and a central figure of Shi'ite Islam who was killed in a seventh century battle. His followers believe he was buried in Karbala.

Story continues below
  • Pilgrims enter the Imam Abbas shrine as they attend the religious ceremony of Arbaeen, in Karbala, Iraq, January 3, 2013.
  • Muslim pilgrims mark end of the Arbaeen, which falls 40 days after the Shi'ite holy day of Ashura, Karbala, January 3, 2013.
  • Pilgrims attend the religious ceremony of Arbaeen, in Karbala, Iraq, January 3, 2013.
  • Shi'ite Muslim worshippers gather in front of the holy shrine of Imam Abbas, seen in the background, to mark the Muslim festival of Arbaeen in Karbala, Iraq, January 2 , 2013.

 
Pilgrims attending the ceremony in the golden temple of the Imam Hussein beat their heads and chests whilst singing.
 
Snipers and bomb squads were among around 30,000 Iraqi police and soldiers deployed around Karbala to watch over millions of pilgrims gathered to observe Arbaeen.
 
Shi'ites have been travelling by foot to observe the annual rite which is a major test for Iraqi security forces after a series of attacks targeted Shi'ite pilgrims across Iraq.
 
Shi'ite religious rites were banned under the rule of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted in 2003 by a U.S.-led invasion that triggered years of sectarian violence.
 
Explosions across Iraq killed at least 23 people and wounded 87 on Monday, police said, amid a growing political crisis that is inflaming sectarian tensions.
 
The pilgrimage site has been a repeated target of militants since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.
 
Last year, a suicide bomber disguised as a policeman killed at least 53 people and wounded scores in an attack on pilgrims at the end of Arbaeen.
 
Hussein, a Sunni, placed strict limits on pilgrimages to Kerbala, but since his overthrow in 2003, these have become a show of strength for Iraq's Shi'ite majority and a prime target of Sunni Islamist insurgents.
 
Meanwhile Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, on Monday warned he will not tolerate Sunni anti-government rallies indefinitely, but made a concession to their demands by promising to free some women prisoners.
 
Thousands of Sunnis have been taking to the streets of Iraq for more than a week in protest against Maliki, whom they accuse of discriminating against their sect and being under the sway of their non-Arab Shi'ite neighbor Iran.
 
The incident has once more threatened to plunge a delicate power-sharing deal into turmoil, just as President Jalal Talabani, a moderating influence, is in Germany for medical care after suffering a stroke.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 03, 2013 9:13 PM
These henious, cowardly, deliberate, targeted and continous attacks against civilians people, on their religeous pilgrames is just horrendous. Shia worshippers should be free and safe to carry out their religious duties and obligations. I find it appalling that this carnage goes on and on unabatted year after year; Shia worshipers, as any worshippers from other religions, deserve the full protection of the Iraqi state. I find it also extremly disturbing and appalling, that there is no condemnation, no outcry by the UN/EU/US.. etc .and all civilized nations against this terrible carnage. We in the West may not see eye to eye with the current leadership of Iran, but in no way should that affect our outrage against these terrible crimes being committed against the peaceful Shia worshippers, no matter how we individually address G_d.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More