Pilgrims, journalists targeted across Iraq
BAGHDAD — Two car bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims during a religious festival in the holy city of Karbala killed 25 people Monday, Iraqi police and hospital officials said.
Militants detonated two parked cars filled with explosives about two miles apart as crowds of pilgrims passed by. Police and medical officials in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, said 68 people were injured.
The pilgrims were on their way to Karbala for an important holiday known as Shabaniyah, which attracts Shiites from across the country.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the method is the hallmark of Sunni extremists.
Earlier Monday in Baghdad, a suicide bomber driving a minibus blew himself up in front of the Baghdad office of popular Arabic news station Al-Arabiya, killing six people and burying a lawmaker alive under the rubble of his collapsed home, police and hospital officials said.
Al Qaeda in Iraq took responsibility for the bombing.
Although the newsroom itself was spared, the attack was a brutal reminder of the dangers Iraqis face in practicing journalism, which they have had the freedom to do for only seven years. The war has been the deadliest in history for journalists. More than 140 have been killed in Iraq since the war began, the vast majority of them Iraqis, according to the New Yorkbased Committee to Protect Journalists.
Al-Arabiya is among the most popular Arabic news stations, but militants view it as pro-Western.
The bomber made i t through two checkpoints, casting further doubts on the capabilities of Iraqi security forces as U.S. combat troops prepare to pull out next month. Members of Al-Arabiya’s security department were arrested, an Iraqi military spokesman said, without elaborating.
The massive blast blew out windows in the two-story building and left much of the interior in shambles, with doors hanging off their frames. The street outside was littered with the smoldering hulks of at least nine cars.
Three guards, a driver, a passer-by and a 50-year-old cleaner died in the blast, police and hospital officials said. The attack also wounded 16 people, including parliament member and former Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie. Zubaie was rescued from under the rubble of his home and underwent surgery, an official in the lawmaker’s office said.