Fe­male sui­cide bomber kills 54 by det­o­nat­ing ex­plo­sives among Shi­ite pil­grims

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIED - BY BRIAN MUR­PHY

par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, which are seen as a crit­i­cal step in rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween the ma­jor­ity Shi­ites and the Sun­nis who lost con­trol with the top­pling of Sad­dam Hus­sein.

The lat­est at­tack was an­other blow — but not en­tirely un­ex­pected.

Shi­ite pil­grims are easy tar­gets for bombers who can min­gle with the crowds stream­ing on roads to shrines and other sites. The cur­rent pil­grim­age is one of the largest.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple are walk­ing this week to­ward Kar­bala in south­ern Iraq be­fore the cul­mi­na­tion of re­li­gious events Fri­day — mark­ing the end of 40 days of mourn­ing fol­low­ing the an­niver­sary of the death Imam Hus­sein, a revered Shi­ite fig­ure.

Iraqi se­cu­rity forces have promised to pro­tect the pil­grims with ex­panded pa­trols and check­points. But Mon­day’s bomb­ing shows the huge chal­lenges of try­ing to find a sin­gle at­tacker among the throng.

The bomber hid the ex­plo­sives be­neath an abaya — a woman’s black cloak worn from head to toe — as she joined a group of pil­grims on the out­skirts of Bagh­dad’s Shi­ite-dom­i­nated neigh­bour­hood of Shaab, said Maj. Gen. Qas­sim al-Mous­sawi, Bagh­dad’s top mil­i­tary spokesman.

The bomber set off the blast — de­scribed as a huge fire­ball — as she lined up with other women to be searched by fe­male se­cu­rity guards at a check­point just in­side a rest tent serv­ing sher­bet and tea.

Peo­ple were “on the ground, cov­ered in blood and cry­ing for help. Ban­ners were all over the ground and cov­ered in blood,” said wit­ness Ra­heem Kad­hom, 35.

The blast was so pow­er­ful it blew some peo­ple out of their slip­pers and shoes, which were scat­tered across the ground, he said. Many of the wounded were loaded into cars in­stead of wait­ing for am­bu­lances.

A po­lice of­fi­cial said 54 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 18 women and 12 chil­dren, were killed and 117 were wounded. A hospi­tal of­fi­cial con­firmed the ca­su­al­ties. Both of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to talk to the me­dia. ATHENS (AP) — So­mali pi­rates freed a Greek-owned cargo ship Mon­day and its 22-mem­ber crew held since Novem­ber af­ter re­ceiv­ing a ran­som pay­ment, of­fi­cials in Greece said.

A coast guard state­ment said the Fil­itsa was head­ing for the Kenyan port of Mom­basa along with its crew— three Greeks, 18 Filipinos and a Ro­ma­nian. Of­fi­cials said the crew mem­bers were all in good health.

The ship’s owner, Or­der Ship­ping, con­firmed that a ran­som had been paid but re­fused to de­clare the sum. NEW YORK (AP) — A fed­eral grand jury has charged the fa­ther of an air­port driver ac­cused in a New York ter­ror­ism plot with con­spir­ing to ob­struct a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the mat­ter.

A newly un­sealed court charge says Mo­hammed Wali Zazi con­spired to con­ceal or de­stroy ev­i­dence in the ter­ror­ism probe. His son Na­jibul­lah Zazi was charged in Septem­ber with plot­ting to at­tack New York City with home­made bombs.

The in­dict­ment ac­cuses Mo­hammed Zazi of ob­struct­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The items that he al­legedly con­spired to de­stroy or con­ceal in­clude liq­uid chem­i­cals and con­tain­ers.

The elder Zazi lives in Colorado.

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