Conflict & Justice

Iraq: Bomb kills 53 in southern city


A bomb exploded near crowds of Shiite pilgrims in Basra, killing at least 53 and wounding 137.



A bomb exploded among a crowd of Shiite pilgrims Saturday morning near the southern city of Basra in Iraq, killing at least 53.

This is the latest attack against the group, making their way to hold shrines, the Washington Post reported.

According to Lt. Col. Jassim Lefta, eight women and three children were among those killed, the Washington Post reported, with additional reports by CNN saying at least 137 people were wounded.

Read more at GlobalPost: Baghdad: Two car bombs kill at least 16, targeting Shiites

Majid Hussein, a pilgrim present, told the Associated Press:

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. 

There were conflicting reports about the actual cause of the explosion, with some saying the source was a roadside bomb while others blamed a suicide bomber.

An Iraqi military intelligence officer told the AP it was a roadside bomb, pointing out the road from Basra to Zubair that was being used by Shiite pilgrims was closed to traffic.

Other reports said the explosion came from a suicide bomber, disguised as a policeman or member of the military.

According to CNN, the bomber struck a police checkpoint near a Shiite mosque, the destination for many pilgrims heading to mark Arbaeen, the last day of a 40-day mourning period for the death of Imam Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Many Shiite pilgrims make their way to Karbala, where Imam Hussein ibn Ali is buried. Millions from Iraq and other Muslim countries visit for the holiday, The New York Times reported.

However, those in southern Iraq unable to make that march to Karbala, make a short trip to the Khatwa mosque in Zubair.

In the last 10 days there have been scores of attacks on Shiites, most likely by Sunnis, killing more than 145 people, the AP reported.

Read more at GlobalPost: Death toll in Iraq bombings rises: Are they headed toward another civil war?