« | »

Muslims Kill 26 More Muslim Iraq Pilgrims

From a breathless Associated Press:

Shi’ite pilgrims gather outside the Imam Hussein shrine in the holy city of Kerbala, south of Baghdad, August 26, 2007.

Iraq orders 1 million pilgrims to leave

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – Police ordered a curfew Tuesday in Shiite holy city of Karbala and told more than 1 million pilgrims to leave after two days of violence claimed least 26 lives during a Shiite religious festival.

An Interior Ministry official accused the Mahdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr of attacking government security forces in the center of Karbala, site of two Shiite shrines under the control of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council. Al-Sadr’s forces are battling SIIC for power in regions south of Baghdad.

The Interior Ministry official said the 26 dead were killed in gunbattles between security forces and militiamen. The official, who would not allow his name to be used for security reasons, said the government in Baghdad was sending buses to Karbala to take some of the pilgrims out of the city.

Gunshots rang out in the area near the Shiite shrines that are the focal point of celebrations marking the birthday of the 12th and last Shiite imam, who disappeared in the 9th century. The festival was to have reached its high point Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The 26 dead were killed in two outbursts of gunfire, one Monday night and a second about midday Tuesday. Police initially blamed Shiite pilgrims trying to push past frustratingly slow security checkpoints near the Imam al-Hussein mosque.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had sent more troops to the area from Baghdad and surrounding areas.

He said the gunmen who fought police were “criminals,” adding that the curfew was imposed because of fears for the many pilgrims.

“The situation now is under control but what is worrying is that the pilgrims are in huge numbers. … The area where they were gathering has been evacuated in order to control those (criminals),” Khalaf said. He said the gunmen were gathering in three areas in the old town and security forces were chasing them.

A member of the city council said the center of town was in chaos, with pilgrims running in all directions to escape the gunfire. No one, he said, was sure who was doing the shooting. He said a rocket-propelled grenade exploded near the shrine.

“We don’t know what’s going on,” said the councilman, who wouldn’t allow use of his name for security reasons. “All we know is the huge numbers of pilgrims was too much for the checkpoints to handle and now there is shooting.”

Four people — two men and two women — were killed in a similar melee near the mosque Monday night. One of the wounded died overnight. AP Television News video from the city, 50 miles south of Baghdad, showed pilgrims running as gunfire, apparently police shooting into the air, rang out through the streets near the mosque…

This sure is a vague report. Has Iraq order the pilgrims to leave the country or just the “holy city of Karbala”?

Of course one wonders how much of this is being hyped to show that security is still not improved in Baghdad.

You see this proves that the surge isn’t working. At least in their minds.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

No Responses to “Muslims Kill 26 More Muslim Iraq Pilgrims”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »