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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.