Thu | May 5, 2016

Forty-one dead, 100 wounded in suicide attack, twin-bomb blasts

Published:Friday | November 15, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Shiite worshippers run between the holy shrines of Imam Abbas and Imam Hussein during Ashura in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometres) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday. Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala, Iraq, in the year 680 AD.
Iraqi Shiite faithful worshippers cut themselves with swords and knives during Ashura, marking the anniversary of the seventh-century death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Islam's founding prophet Muhammad, in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometres) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday. The remembrance of Muharram marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala when Imam Hussein, a grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed. - AP PHOTOS


A suicide attacker and twin-bomb blasts yesterday targeted Shiites marking a sombre religious ritual in Iraq, killing at least 41 people and wounding more than 100, officials said.

The ritual, known as Ashura, is observed every year over a 10-day period and has been marred previously by massive attacks by al-Qaida and other Sunni extremists who see Shiites as heretics. This year, the attacks come amid an escalating campaign of violence by insurgents seeking to thwart the Shiite-led government's efforts to maintain security.

The deadliest of yesterday's attacks was in the town of al-Saadiyah, 140 kilometres (90 miles) northeast of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber struck a group of Shiites gathered for an Ashura event. The explosion killed at least 32 people and wounded 75, two police officers said.

The Shiites at the Saadiyah gathering were recreating the seventh-century battle of Karbala, a city in present-day Iraq. Ashura commemorates the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, in that battle.

two explosions

Earlier yesterday, two bombs exploded simultaneously near tents set up to offer food and drinks to Shiite pilgrims passing through Hafriyah, a town about 50 kilometres (32 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, another police officer said.

The Shiites were making their way on foot to Hussein's gold-domed shrine in Karbala, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of Baghdad, where authorities said more than two million pilgrims were expected to converge.