70 Iraqis killed in attacks on Shia pilgrims, soldiers
Seventy Iraqis were killed and scores more were wounded in a series of car bombings and attacks in the cities of Baghdad, Hillah, Karbala, and Balad. Most of the bombings targeted Shia pilgrims while gunmen opened fire on police. From Reuters:
In Wednesday's attacks, at least 18 people were killed when four bombs hit pilgrims across Baghdad as they gathered to mark the anniversary of the death of Shi'ite imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a great-grandson of Prophet Mohammad.
One of those blasts killed at least nine people as pilgrims passed through a police checkpoint in central Baghdad.
"A group of pilgrims were walking and passed by a tent offering food and drinks when suddenly a car exploded near them," said Wathiq Muhana, a policeman whose patrol was stationed near the blast in Karrada district....
In a separate attack on Wednesday in the mainly Shi'ite southern city of Hilla, police said two car bombs, including one detonated by a suicide bomber, exploded outside restaurants used by security forces, killing 22 people and wounding 38.
"When a minibus packed with policemen stopped near the restaurants, a car exploded near the bus," said Maitham Sahib, owner of a restaurant in Hilla near the blast. "It's heart breaking. It is just sirens, and screams of wounded people."
Two more car bombs killed four people in the Shi'ite city of Balad, a car bomb in Kerbala killed 3 and wounded 17, and another car bomb in Haswa, 50 km (30 miles) south of Baghdad, killed one person, and wounded four.
Five soldiers were also killed by gunmen in an attack on an army checkpoint in the south of the capital, police said.
While no group has claimed credit for the attacks as of yet, they were undoubtedly the work of al Qaeda in Iraq. The terror group has made it their business to attack Shia processions in and around Baghdad over the years. AQI has claimed numerous attacks on Shia pilgrims and religious institutions. Just this week, AQI claimed credit for the suicide attack on the Shi'ite Endowment in Baghdad that killed 25 people.
AQI spokesman spokesman Abu Muhammad al 'Adnani has advocated the targeting of Iraq Shias as recently as the end of February [see Threat Matrix report, Al Qaeda in Iraq rails at Shias, claims deadly attacks].