Iraq hit by worst day of violence since withdrawal of US troops

Sunni insurgents blamed after a wave of attacks on Shia shrines leaves 70 dead across the country

More than 70 people were killed in Iraq yesterday when bombers attacked Shia pilgrims in Baghdad and across the country in the worst day of violence since the last US troops left in December.

At least 30 of the victims were killed when four bombs exploded as pilgrims marched across Baghdad to mark the anniversary of the death of Shia Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a great-grandson of Prophet Mohammed.

The bombings, blamed on Sunni insurgents, followed a recent spate of attacks targeting members of the majority Shia population. They came amid a continuing political crisis in which the Shia Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is facing an effort by Sunnis, Kurds and rivals from his own sect to engineer a no-confidence vote in protest at what they say is his failure to distribute government jobs more equitably among the parties.

While one car bomb was detonated outside a Shia mosque in the Iraqi capital, another explosion hit groups of pilgrims as they rested at refreshment tents in the central Karrada district, along the route towards a shrine.

Policeman Wathiq Muhana, told Reuters: "A group of pilgrims were walking and passed by a tent offering food and drinks when suddenly a car exploded near them. People were running away covered with blood and bodies were scattered on the ground."

Meanwhile, 22 people were killed in the predominantly Shia city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, where police said two car bombs – one of them detonated by a suicide bomber – exploded outside restaurants frequented by local security forces.

Maitham Sahib, the owner of a nearby restaurant, said: "When a minibus packed with policemen stopped near the restaurants, a car exploded near the bus. It's heart breaking. It is just sirens, and screams of wounded people."

In all, more than 21 bombs exploded in Baghdad and southern cities including Kerbala, Balad and Haswa, all mainly Shia, and targeted in the past by Sunni insurgents. One person was also killed when two bombs struck the offices of a Kurdish party in the ethnically mixed oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, to which leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan also lay claim.

But the chances of Sunni insurgents reigniting the bloody sectarian conflict that raged in 2006 and 2007 are debatable, given that with power firmly in the hands of the Shia majority, there is less incentive for bloody tit-for-tat retaliation.

Although there was a steep rise in violence after the US pull-out – 73 were killed in bombings on 5 January – Iraqi government statistics suggest the rate of violent incidents is falling.

News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor