Bombs targeting Shiites kill at least 72 in Iraq
A suicide bomber blew himself up next to a large group of Shiite pilgrims walking to the holy city of Karbala on Thursday afternoon, killing at least 48 and wounding more than 81, according to a provincial security chief.
The attack came hours after a series of explosions in two Shiite neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital left at least two dozen people dead. The death toll is the largest in a single day since the United States completed its withdrawal of ground troops from Iraq on Dec. 18.
A wave of bombs struck two Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, Thursday, officials said, killing at least 27 people. The blasts intensified fears of a renewed cycle of sectarian violence in Iraq. (Jan. 5)
Just before the bombing of the pilgrims, an Iraqi army officer saw the assailant and tried to intervene, said the security chief, Sajad al-Asadi.
The officer attempted to wrap his arms around the bomber and tackle him before he could detonate his explosives. He was killed in the bombing, which occurred near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles south of Baghdad.
Asadi said many of the injured are in serious or critical condition, and he expects the death toll to rise. “We are blaming al-Qaeda,” Asadi said, although no group immediately claimed credit for the attacks. “This is al-Qaeda’s tactic to target Shiite pilgrims.”
In Baghdad, morning explosions killed at least 24 people and injured more than 65, according to security officials. At the same time, a political stand-off between Shiite and Sunni leaders continued Thursday at the Iraqi parliament, with the majority of the Sunni-supported political bloc Iraqiya choosing to boycott the proceedings.