Bombs kill 2 Shi’ite pilgrims in Baghdad

The new wave of attacks raised fears of a renewal of the widespread sectarian bloodshed in Iraq.

Baghdad: Roadside bombs killed two Shi’ite pilgrims in Baghdad on Friday, the day after the country`s deadliest sectarian violence in more than a year left scores dead, officials said.

The new wave of attacks, which bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents, raised fears of a renewal of the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war just a few years ago.

At least three roadside bombs exploded on Friday morning in different parts of the capital, wounding 17 people in addition to the two killed, police and hospital officials said.

They struck Shi’ite pilgrims making their way toward the sacred city of Karbala for a holy day that draws hundreds of thousands of believers from across Iraq each year.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to brief the media.

A series of bombings targeting members of Iraq`s Shi’ite Muslim majority claimed the lives of at least 78 people on Thursday, marking the second large-scale attack by militants since US forces pulled out last month.

The attacks occurred in the run-up to Arbaeen, a holy day that marks the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered Shi’ite figure. During this time, Shi’ite pilgrims — many on foot — make their way across Iraq to Karbala, south of Baghdad.

Coordinated attacks aimed at Shi’ites are a tactic frequently used by Sunni insurgents.

The last US combat troops left Iraq on December 18, ending a nearly nine-year war. Many Iraqis worry that a resurgence of Sunni and Shi’ite militancy could follow the Americans` withdrawal. In 2006, a Sunni attack on a Shi’ite shrine triggered a wave of sectarian violence that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

The violence in Iraq comes as the country`s main factions are mired in a crisis pitting politicians from the Shi’ite majority now in power against the Sunni minority, which dominated government under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Bureau Report

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