Suspected Al Qaeda members sit blindfolded at the Al Karkh police headquarters in Baghdad yesterday after confessing that they had killed and threatened Shias in the southern districts of the Iraqi capital to fuel sectarian strife, according to police.
BAGHDAD: Violence including an attack on Shia pilgrims in Baghdad killed at least 47 people across Iraq yesterday, among them two journalists gunned down in the north, officials said.
Accounts differed as to whether the attack on the pilgrims in the Adhamiyah area of north Baghdad, which killed at least 23 people and wounded at least 65, was a bomb followed by a suicide bombing, or a suicide attack alone.
It came as pilgrims walked to a shrine to commemorate the death of Imam Mohammed Al Jawad, the ninth Shia imam. Iraq is home to some of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, and millions of pilgrims visit the country each year.
Earlier, gunmen killed two Iraqi journalists in the northern city of Mosul. The Sharqiya television channel said two of its journalists — correspondent Mohammed Karim Al Badrani and cameraman Mohammed Ghanem — were “assassinated” in Mosul.
Police and a doctor confirmed the two journalists had been shot dead. Their reports on security forces and officials in Mosul had brought death threats from militant groups opposed to the government, a Sharqiya journalist said.
Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over shortcomings in media freedoms. “Many Iraqi journalists are routinely exposed to threats, murder attempts, attacks, difficulties obtaining permission, denial of access, confiscation of equipment and so on,” media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this year.
Journalists, even with the appropriate authorisation, are routinely barred from approaching the sites of attacks and prevented from otherwise freely reporting in Baghdad.
Photographic and video equipment is also often viewed with suspicion by security forces.
In the town of Balad, north of the capital, a suicide bomber struck a cafe, killing 12 people and wounding 35, police and a doctor said. The same cafe was attacked by a suicide bomber in August, killing 16 people.
In Muqdadiyah, a town northeast of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a car, killing one person and wounding three.
Another bombing in the Bayaa area of Baghdad itself killed two people and wounded at least 10.
And the Iraqi defence ministry said that security forces killed five militants in clashes south of the town of Baiji, and two more in the northern province of Nineveh.