Explosion Kills 40 on Route to Karbala

A woman suicide bomber dressed in a black abaya blew herself up in a crowd of women and children Shiite pilgrims south of the Iraqi capital on Friday, killing at least 35 worshippers, officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdel-Karim Khalaf said 35 people were killed and 68 wounded, almost all women and children, in the attack in Iskandiriyah as pilgrims flocked on foot to the holy city of Kerbala for a major religious ceremony.

It was the deadliest attack in Iraq for almost six weeks, since a suicide bomber, initially said to be a woman but later identified as a man, killed 35 people near a Shiite shrine in the Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad on January 4.

Captain Mohammad al-Awadi of the police force for Babil Province, of which Hilla is the capital, said the bomber had hidden her explosives under an abaya, a traditional Muslim head-to-toe black garment for women.

She blew herself up among a crowd of women and children just after midday (0900 GMT), he said, in what was the third straight day of deadly attacks on Shiites heading to Kerbala.

The pilgrims had been eating near a tent in the town of Iskandiriyah set up for refreshments along the 110-kilometer trek south to Kerbala from Baghdad when the bomber struck, the Interior Ministry said.

A doctor at nearby Hilla General Hospital, where dozens of ambulances ferried the casualties, said most of the survivors had head and chest wounds. All 17 dead taken to that hospital were women and children.

The use of female suicide bombers in abayas has become a feared terror tactic in Iraq.

Earlier this month, police announced they had arrested a woman who had confessed to recruiting over 80 such suicide bombers and who helped orchestrate dozens of attacks.

Iskandiriyah lies within what used to be known as “the triangle of death” where Sunni fighters from Al-Qaeda, concealed in date-tree groves, would launch deadly attacks on Shiites who ventured into the mainly farming area.

Last February, a suicide bomber in Iskandiriyah, which lies 40 kilometers south of the capital, killed 43 Shiite pilgrims and wounded over 60 others.

Millions of pilgrims are traveling to Kerbala for Arbaeen, a ritual to mark 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid’s armies in AD 680.

Kerbala provincial Governor Akeel al-Khazali told a news conference Friday that 5 million have already arrived in the city, including 110,000 from abroad.

Friday’s attack came a day after eight pilgrims were killed and more than 50 wounded in a bombing near Kerbala’s revered Imam Hussein shrine. An Interior Ministry source said the bomb in a gas pipe was detonated by remote control.

A blast near the same shrine 11 months ago left 43 dead.

On Wednesday, deadly bombings again targeting Shiites near a Baghdad bus station killed 16 people as violence across Iraq claimed at least 27 lives and shattered a relative lull since largely peaceful provincial elections on January 31.

Iraq has experienced a steadily improving security situation in the past year, but the latest attacks have underscored the country’s fragile security.

Shiite pilgrims heading to Kerbala have been targeted and killed by Sunni rebel groups in past years, adding to sectarian bloodshed that has seen hundreds of thousands killed since the US-led invasion of 2003.

On Friday, an Iraqi Army general and his son were found shot dead at their apartment in a mainly Sunni Muslim district of Baghdad on Friday, Interior and Defense ministry officials said.

Source: AFP with Daily Star

Update: The number of dead has risen to 40, with a further 80 wounded. (source: AP)

Aim Islam


US confession: Weapons were not made in Iran after all

Nice to see that they are starting to confess to thier failures!


Iranian weapons


In a sharp reversal of its longstanding accusations against Iran
arming militants in Iraq , the US military has made an unprecedented albeit quiet confession: the weapons they had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all.

According to a report by the LA Times correspondent Tina Susman in Baghdad: “A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin. When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all.”

The US , which until two weeks ago had never provided any proof for its allegations, finally handed over its “evidence” of the Iranian
origin of these weapons to the Iraqi government. Last week, an Iraqi
delegation to Iran presented the US “evidence” to Iranian officials.
According to Al-Abadi, a parliament member from the ruling United
Iraqi Alliance who was on the delegation, the Iranian officials
totally refuted “training, financing and arming” militant groups in
Iraq . Consequently the Iraqi government announced that there is no hard evidence against Iran.

In another extraordinary event this week, the US spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, for the first time did not blame Iran for the
violence in Iraq and in fact did not make any reference to Iran at all
in his introductory remarks to the world media on Wednesday when he described the large arsenal of weapons found by Iraqi forces in Karbala.

In contrast, the Pentagon in August 2007 admitted that it had lost
track of a third of the weapons distributed to the Iraqi security
forces in 2004/2005. The 190,000 assault rifles and pistols roam free in Iraqi streets today.

In the past year, the US leaders have been relentless in propagating their charges of Iranian meddling and fomenting violence in Iraq and since the release of the key judgments of the US National Intelligence Estimate in December that Iran does not have a nuclear weaponisation programme, these accusations have sharply intensified.

The US charges of Iranian interference in Iraq too have now collapsed. Any threat of military strike against Iran is in violation of the UN charter and the IAEA’s continued supervision on Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities means there is no justification for sanctions.

CASMII calls on the US to change course and enter into comprehensive and unconditional negotiations with Iran.