Shia Pilgrims and Christians Attacked in Iraq

Violence Affects Multiple Targets

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BAGHDAD, Iraq, DEC. 7, 2011 ( A series of bomb attacks killed 30 in Iraq on Monday. The deadliest attack took place in al-Nil to the north of the city of Hilla, where a car bomb exploded as a group of pilgrims passed by, killing 16 people. Two further explosive devices were detonated in Hill and a town to the north, Latifaya. Later there were two attacks in separate areas of the capital, Baghdad. 

The attacks came as Shia pilgrims were gathered to mark the festival of Ashura. The word Ashura means “10th” and was the day when the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed died in battle in 680 in Karbala, modern-day Iraq. Hussein was the third Shiite imam and the anniversary is commemorated with re-enactments of his death. In recent years the day has also become an occasion of violence with Sunni extremists attacking Shia pilgrims.

The attacks came shortly after a number of shops owned by Christians in the northern city of Zakho were seriously damaged by groups of extremists. Groups of mainly young people were incited to carry out the attacks by an inflammatory sermon of an imam during last Friday’s prayers.

According to a report published by Asia News, local Christian sources said that hundreds of people destroyed at least 13 liquor shops, but the final number of shops damaged could be significantly higher.

There was also violence in the Christian village of Shiuz. According to Asia News both in Zakho and Shiuz, police took their time in reacting to the aggression and the Christian community feels abandoned by the local authorities.

The local source for Asia News, who remained anonymous for reasons of safety, warned that such events have led to Christians leaving their native lands in search of security.

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