Bombings, shootings kill at least 17 in Iraq
December 15, 2013 - 7:23:06 am
BAGHDAD: At least 17 people, most of them Shia Muslims, were killed in a wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq yesterday ahead of a major Shia ritual, medical and police sources said.
The deadliest of the attacks took place in Baghdad’s mainly Shia district of Bayaa when a car bomb blew up near a gathering of Shia pilgrims, killing seven people and wounding another 16, police and medics said.
Three people were killed and ten wounded in a mainly Shia district on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded in a vegetable market, police said.
In the district of Husseiniya, a bomb left inside a restaurant killed two people and wounded another five, police said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came a few days before Arbae’en, a holy ritual in which Shias commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad.
Iraqi security services have been on high alert since last week as they expect more attacks targeting Shia communities in the coming days.
Shias are considered apostates by hardline Sunni Islamist insurgents who have been regaining momentum in Iraq this year. On Friday, masked gunmen killed 18 people, most of them Iranians, working on a gas pipeline outside the northeastern Iraqi town of Muqdadiya.
In other violence yesterday, gunmen ambushed a military vehicle and shot dead three soldiers in western Tikrit, 150km north of Baghdad, police said. Two more soldiers were shot dead when gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint east of the Iraqi capital.
Iraqi authorities blame al Qaeda for the rise in violence in the country, saying it is trying to destabilise the Shia-led government and foment intercommunal conflict.
Insurgent attacks in Iraq have risen since the start of the year, with hundreds killed each month.