Another violent attack in Iraq has left 27 people dead. According to reports, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb during the pilgrimage of Shiite Muslims to a holy city to the south of Baghdad. Attackers planned the attack during the busiest part of the day as the roads were congested with people trying to reach the city. The attack comes on the heels of two violent attacks in Iraq this week. On Monday, a suicide bomber killed 54 people north of Baghdad and on Wednesday a motorcycle suicide bomber killed dozens of pilgrims.
The pilgrims were heading to the city of Karbala to celebrate Arabeen, a ritual to honor Imam Hussein. The attack occurred as people were standing close together on the Peace Bridge. Police officers and troops ranging in the 30,000 number have been recently deployed in order to provide security for a ritual that had been previously banned under the Sadam Hussein regime.
A female suicide bomber detonated a set of explosives hidden under her garments killing at least 40 and injuring more than 100 civilians. The bomber targeted a group of Shia pilgrims who were making the journey to Karbala from Baghdad to celebrate the annual festival of Arbaeen which culminates the end of a 40-day morning of the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. The pilgrimage has been the target of attacks staged by Sunni extremists – less than a year ago another group of Shia pilgrims on the same journey were killed by a female suicide bomber. This most recent attack highlights the elevated tension between Shia and Sunni groups in anticipation of parliamentary elections coming this March. Read more at BBC.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national who tried to detonate a bomb aboard a U.S. bound flight to Detroit on Christmas Day has been indicted by a grand jury. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that “this investigation is fast-paced, global and ongoing, and it has already yielded valuable intelligence that we will follow wherever it leads,” giving hope that security measures will be taken in order to prevent individuals from boarding flights with the purpose of detonating a bomb.
Abdulmutallab is charged with murder and the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Furthermore, it has been discovered that security officials learned of Abdulmutallab’s extremist views while he was already en route to Detroit and were going to question him when he landed. The White House is expected to release a report today in which they explain the events that lead to the attempted attack. Abdulmutallab faces life in prison.
The Pakistani Taliban sent an email claiming responsibility for Friday’s suicide bombing of a Rawapindi mosque. On Friday afternoon, four suicide bombers entered a mosque and discharged gunfire and grenades at the attending worshippers in the city of Rawalpindi, a well-known military base for the Pakistani army. According to the Washington Post, “40 people were killed and scores were injured.” Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas confirmed that two of the attackers blew themselves up, while the security forces killed the remaining two.
The attack occurred only two days after President Obama emphasized Pakistan’s importance in the U.S.’s new fighting strategy in Afghanistan.
Rawalpindi has not been under attack for at least a month, since insurgents took people hostage in military headquarters on October 1oth and a terrorist targeted a bank on November 2nd.
Read more at the Washington Post and CNN World. Read more about Pakistan on the NSLB blog.
A suicide car-bomber hit Pakistan’s intelligence agency in the northwestern province of Peshawar, killing at least seven people and injuring 35. According to the head of the local government, most of the victims were civilians. A separate blast at a police station injured at least ten people in the town of Bannu.
The attacks come amidst a fresh wave of militant violence in response to the ongoing anti-Taliban offensive in the South Waziristan region. Two weeks ago, a suicide bomber struck a market in Peshawar, killing over 100 people and injuring dozens. Analysts believe that civilians are increasingly being targeted because militants find themselves cornered by Pakistani forces. Nevertheless, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani indicated that the state is committed to “eliminating terrorism completely.”
Read more at BBC South Asia.