Iraq violence flares with attacks on pilgrims and police

February 25th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, Feb 25 (DPA) Violence flared in Iraq Monday with at least 13 People killed and 23 others wounded, including Shiite pilgrims and senior police officers, a day after at least 40 people were killed in attacks on pilgrims in and around Baghdad. In Monday’s attack on Shia pilgrims in Baghdad’s southern Zafaraniya district, three people were killed and 11 wounded in a bomb blast, the police told the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency.

The pilgrims were on their way to the Shia city of Karbala, which is hosting a religious festival.

The police detained a suspect, who they believed planted the bomb in Zafaraniya.

At least 40 people died and scores were injured in attacks on pilgrims Sunday in Baghdad’s southern Doura district and the town of Alexandria, 50 km south of the capital.

The pilgrims were on their way to attend the Shia Arbain festival, which marks the end of 40 days of mourning for the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Hussein.

The US embassy in Baghdad blamed the attacks on the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

“Random violence reflects the nature of this enemy that targets even people performing religious rituals in an attempt to rekindle sectarian strife in Iraq,” the embassy said in a statement.

In Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber in a wheelchair Monday killed a senior police officer and his two aides and wounded eight soldiers at a police centre, according to security officials.

Major General Abdel Jabbar Rabi, an assistant police commander, was killed when a man in a wheelchair blew himself up as the officer was on his way into the centre to meet a group of Iraqis.

In the northern city of Mosul, three people from the same family, including a child were killed and four women were injured in a blast.

An object fell on a house in the Tal Roman area, in western Mosul, causing the blast, security sources told VOI.

The nature of the object is still not known.

Also in Mosul, four policemen were killed in an attack by gunmen on their patrol in the eastern Muarid district, VOI reported.

Multi-ethnic Mosul, 400 km north of Baghdad, has been swept by violence in recent months. This escalation is thought to have been caused by insurgents regrouping in northern provinces after they were driven out of Baghdad and surrounding areas.

The Iraqi government has been massing troops in the city in preparation for a “decisive battle” against Sunni extremist groups.

The military build-up has caused alarm among the population with many fearing abuse by Iraqi troops.

In a separate development, the US army arrested seven suspects, including a man believed to be a facilitator for Iran-backed special groups in Swaira, south of Baghdad, according to a military statement.

US forces refer to members of the Shia Mahdi Army militia, who breach a declared truce, as special groups.

The militia has observed for the past six months a ceasefire declared by Shiite radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr but some of them violated it.

A renewal of the ceasefire has been announced by al-Sadr Friday.

Militia, who do not abide by the truce, risk expulsion, al-Sadr’s spokesman, Salah al-Ubaydi, told VOI.

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