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IRAQ WARS
25 killed in Iraq as Shiites throng Baghdad for rituals
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (AFP) May 24, 2014


Car bomb at Iraq alcohol shop kills seven: officials
Kirkuk, Iraq (AFP) May 24, 2014 - A car bomb outside an alcohol shop in an ethnically-mixed northern Iraqi city killed at least seven people on Saturday evening, security and medical officials said.

The blast, which also wounded 17, struck in the Wasati neighbourhood in southern Kirkuk, a tinderbox city that is at the centre of a long-running territorial dispute between the central government and Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

The evening explosion came amid a protracted surge in bloodshed that has left more than 3,700 people dead so far this year, fuelling fears Iraq is slipping back into the all-out conflict that plagued it in 2006 and 2007.

Attacks elsewhere in the country on Saturday killed 10 other people, including three farmers who were found beheaded, officials said.

Violence has surged in the past year to its highest level since 2008, while anti-government fighters also control an entire city a short drive from Baghdad and parts of another.

Attacks kill 17 as pilgrims converge on Baghdad
Baghdad (AFP) May 23, 2014 - Violence in Baghdad and north Iraq killed 17 people on Friday as throngs of Shiite pilgrims converged on the Iraqi capital for annual commemoration rituals amid heavy security.

The unrest comes as Iraq grapples with a protracted surge in bloodshed that has left more than 3,700 people dead so far this year and fulled fears the country is slipping back into all-out conflict.

Friday's deadly violence struck in the capital and the restive northern province of Nineveh, leaving 17 people dead and 25 others wounded, security and medical officials said.

Mortar fire in north Baghdad killed three people, while two men were shot dead in the west of the capital.

The mortar rounds slammed into the Zahra neighbourhood adjacent to Kadhimiyah, where tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims prepare to commemorate the death of a revered figure in Shiite Islam.

For days worshippers from across the country have been walking to Kadhimiyah, site of a shrine dedicated to Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shiite Islam, who died in 799 AD.

The commemoration rituals climax on Saturday and Sunday.

Shiite pilgrims are often targeted by Sunni militants who regard them as apostates. In past years, multiple attacks have been carried out during the Imam Kadhim commemorations.

Due to the heightened threat of attack, the authorities have imposed heavy security measures on the capital, involving the closure of entire roads and barring certain vehicles from the streets.

In Nineveh province, north of the capital, four more people were killed on Friday, including two senior police officers, officials said, while attacks elsewhere north of Baghdad killed eight others.

Violence has surged in the past year to its highest level since 2008, while anti-government fighters control an entire city a short drive from Baghdad and parts of another.

The latest attacks come as Iraq's political parties jostle to build alliances and form a government after April polls that left incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the driver's seat to remain in office for a third term.

The authorities have trumpeted security operations against militants, saying on Friday that they killed 35 more insurgents, and blame external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria for the surge in violence.

Analysts and diplomats, however, say the Shiite-led government must do more to reach out to disgruntled minority Sunnis and undermine support for militancy.

Throngs of Shiite Muslims converged on a shrine in Baghdad on Saturday for an annual ritual under heavy security, but a string of attacks outside the capital killed 25 people.

The bloodshed was the latest in a protracted surge in nationwide unrest that has fuelled fears Iraq is slipping back into the all-out communal conflict that plagued it in 2006 and 2007, leaving tens of thousands dead.

Much of Baghdad was on lockdown Saturday for the climax of the rites to mark the death of a revered figure in Shiite Islam, with Baghdad's security forces looking to deter Sunni militant groups which often target Iraq's majority community.

Several major roads were closed off and a wide variety of vehicles barred from the streets, as security forces also relied on aerial cover and sniffer dogs.

Organisers say millions of pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine in the Kadhimiyah neighbourhood of north Baghdad between Saturday and Sunday, when the commemoration rituals are to climax.

For days worshippers from across the country, have been walking to Kadhimiyah, site of a shrine dedicated to Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shiite Islam, who died in 799 AD.

Sunni militants regard Shiites as apostates and, as in previous years, multiple attacks have targeted worshippers in the run-up to the annual commemoration.

Three bombings in the capital, including two carried out by suicide attackers, on May 22 killed 21 people, while mortar fire on Friday struck a district adjacent to Kadhimiyah, killing three more.

Outside of Baghdad on Saturday, a series of attacks killed 25 people, security and medical officials said.

In the deadliest attack a car bomb exploded outside an alcohol shop in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing 10 people and wounding 33 others.

In Kirkuk province three farmers kidnapped in the early hours of the morning were found beheaded.

Another vehicle rigged with explosives, this time set off by a suicide attacker, targeted an army convoy in Diyala province escorting Iranian workers who had been installing a gas pipeline between Iran and Iraq.

Five people were killed -- three Iranians and two soldiers -- and 13 people were wounded, including eight Iranians.

Attacks also struck in the restive provinces of Nineveh and Salaheddin, officials said.

Violence has surged in the past year to its highest level since 2008, while anti-government fighters also control an entire city a short drive from Baghdad and parts of another.

The authorities have trumpeted security operations against militants, claiming to have killed around 90 on Saturday alone, and blame external factors such as the civil war in neighbouring Syria for the surge in violence.

Analysts and diplomats, however, say the Shiite-led government must also do more to reach out to disgruntled minority Sunnis and undermine support for militancy.

.


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IRAQ WARS
Iraq attacks on Shiite pilgrims kill 16
Baghdad (AFP) May 22, 2014
A series of bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims, including by a suicide attacker disguised as a woman, killed 16 people in Baghdad Thursday despite heavy security across the capital. The blasts are the latest in a protracted surge of nationwide bloodshed that has left more than 3,600 people dead this year, fuelling fears Iraq is slipping back into the brutal communal bloodshed that blighted t ... read more


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