May 24, 2013
Bombs kill at least 67 in Iraq
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sparked the worst political crisis in a year on Dec. 19 when he sought the removal of two senior Sunni politicians, a day after the last US troops left Iraq. On Dec. 22 bombs in predominately Shi'ite parts of Iraq's capital killed 72.
The biggest attack today was by a police checkpoint west of Nassiriya in the south, where a suicide bomber targeting Shi'ite pilgrims killed at least 38 people and wounded 70, Qusay al-Abadi, head of Nassiriya provincial council said.
Photographs from the scene showed relatives hugging the bodies of young men lying face down on ground covered in blood and with the pilgrims' belongings strewn around them.
Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims are expected to make their way to the holy southern Iraqi Shi'ite city of Kerbala before Arbain, a major Shi'ite Muslim religious rite due to be marked in a week's time.
John Drake, a senior risk consultant at AKE Group, said Shi'ites were likely to be targeted in the weeks around Arbain.
Earlier today, a bomb planted on a parked motorcycle and another roadside explosive device killed at least 10 people and wounded 37 others in Baghdad's northeastern impoverished Sadr City slum, police and hospital sources said.
Police said they found and defused two other bombs.
"There was a group of day labourers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars," said a police officer at the scene, declining to be named.
An international reporter said there was blood around the site of the motorcycle bomb attack and that tarmac on the road had been ripped up by the explosion. Building tools and shoes were scattered across the site.
Another set of explosions, two car bombs, occurred in Baghdad's northwestern Kadhimiya district and killed at least 15 people and wounded 32, police and hospital sources said.
"People started to flee from the explosions and others ran towards them (to look for relatives). The scene was like a play, with people crying and screaming and falling," Ahmed Maati, a policeman in Kadhimiya, told Reuters.
Iraq - on the brink of civil war as recently as 2006-7 - is still plagued by a deadly Sunni Muslim insurgency and Shi'ite militias nearly nine years after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad's health statistics department put the final toll from the Kadhimiya blasts at 16 killed and 36 wounded and said 13 were killed and 32 others wounded in the Sadr City attacks.