Bomb kills 30 Shi'ite pilgrims in southern Iraq

 

A bomb killed at least 30 Shi'ite pilgrims near the southern port city of Basra today, Iraqi officials said. It was the latest in a series of attacks during Shi'ite religious commemorations that threaten to further increase sectarian tensions just weeks after the US withdrawal.

Basra hospitals have received 30 killed and 90 wounded after the blast, said Dr. Riyadh Abdul-Amir, the head of Basra Health Directorate. Witnesses said the attack occurred outside the town of Zubair, southwest of Basra, as pilgrims were making their way to a Shi'ite shrine nearby. A police official, speaking anonymously, confirmed the death toll.

The governor of Basra province's spokesman, Ayad al-Emarah, said it was not clear whether the blast was caused by a suicide attacker or a roadside bomb. 

Zubair is a predominantly Sunni enclave in Iraq's largely Shi'ite south. 

The explosion came as Shi'ites commemorate the climax of Arbaeen, which marks the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered Shi'ite figure. 

Majid Hussein, a government employee, was one of the pilgrims heading to the shrine. He said people began running away in panic when they heard a loud explosion. 

"I saw several dead bodies and wounded people, including children on the ground asking for help. There were also some baby strollers left at the blast site," he said. 

The attack, which bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents, is the latest in a series of deadly strikes in this year's Arbaeen. Scores of pilgrims have been killed. 

The largest of the Arbaeen attacks — a wave of apparently coordinated bombings in Baghdad and outside the southern city of Nasiriyah — killed at least 78 people on 5 January. It was the deadliest strike in Iraq in more than a year. 

The attacks raise fears of a new sectarian rift that could destabilize the country now that US troops are gone. 

Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq yesterday called for Iraq's leader, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to step down or face a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. Al-Mutlaq's Sunni-backed Iraqiya party has been boycotting parliament and Cabinet meetings since last month to protest what it sees as efforts by al-Maliki to consolidate power, particularly over state security forces. 

Al-Maliki's government, meanwhile, has demanded the arrest of the country's top Sunni politician, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of Iraqiya, accusing him of running a hit squad targeting government officials. Al-Hashemi denies the allegations. 

AP

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam