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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.