23 Killed in Wave of Iraq Attacks Targeting Shi’ites, Police

Scores Wounded in Bombings Targeting Pilgrims

by Jason Ditz, December 31, 2012

A serious of bombings and other attacks took place today in Iraq, targeting Shi’ite pilgrims heading to the southern city of Karbala as well as police in northern towns, killing at least 23 and leaving scores of others wounded.

The attacks mostly involved car bombs or planted explosives placed near tents set up to house the traveling pilgrims. This was the case in Baghdad neighborhoods, and apparently also in the city of Hillah. Another pilgrim was killed in a mortar shelling south of Baghdad.

Insurgents have regularly used attacks on Shi’ite pilgrims as a wedge to gain support with the nation’s Sunni Arab minority, and with Sunnis continuing to protest in the nation’s west against the mass arrests of the Finance Minister’s staff and bodyguards, insurgents may be hoping to seize the opportunity to recruit from angry demonstrators.

Though the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya hold the plurality in parliament and are part of the ruling coalition, they are increasingly marginalized politically. In addition of Finance Minister Issawi losing his entire staff to “terrorism” charges, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death in absentia and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq has been repeatedly condemned by Prime Minister Maliki. Mutlaq attended a protest yesterday in Anbar Province, narrowly escaping an assassination attempt.

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