- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Car bombings kill scores in Iraq
Attacks target Shiite pilgrims, wound hundreds; Sunnis suspected
BAGHDAD | A coordinated wave of car bombs struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and several other cities Wednesday, killing at least 66 people and wounding more than 200 in one of the deadliest days in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from the country.
The bloodshed comes against a backdrop of political divisions that have raised tensions and threatened to provoke a new round of the violence that once pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents who frequently target Shiites in Iraq.
Wednesday’s blasts were the third this week targeting the annual pilgrimage that sees hundreds of thousands of Shiites converge on a golden-domed shrine in Baghdad’s northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah to commemorate the eighth century death of a revered Shiite saint, Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. The commemoration culminates on Saturday.
Puddles of blood and shards of metal clogged a drainage ditch at the site of one of the bombings in the city of Hillah, where hours before pilgrims had been marching. Soldiers and dazed onlookers wandered near the charred remains of the car that had exploded and ripped gaping holes in nearby shops.
Most of the 16 separate explosions that rocked the country targeted Shiite pilgrims in five cities, but two hit offices of political parties linked to Iraq’s Kurdish minority in the tense north.
Authorities had tightened security ahead of the pilgrimage, including a blockade of the mainly Sunni area of Azamiyah, which is near the twin-domed Shiite shrine.
The level of violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq since peaking in 2006 and 2007 as the country faced a Sunni-led insurgency and retaliatory sectarian fighting that broke out after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
But Iraqis still face near-daily attacks and Shiite pilgrimages are often targeted.
Political divisions also have deepened, paralyzing the country since the Americans withdrew all combat troops in mid-December.
Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been accused of trying to monopolize power, and tensions spiked after Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi - the highest-ranking Sunni in Iraq’s leadership - was charged with running death squads.
The government began his trial in absentia since Mr. al-Hashemi was out of the country, drawing allegations the charges were part of a vendetta by the Shiite-led government.
The political stagnation has set back hopes for stability in Iraq and stalled efforts to rebuild the country after eight years of U.S. occupation.
“These violent acts reflect the depth of the political crisis in the country and the escalation of political differences among blocs,” said politician Abdul-Sataar al-Jumaili of the Sunni political bloc Iraqiya.
Baghdad military command spokesman Col. Dhia al-Wakeel said the attacks were intended to reignite all-out sectarian bloodshed, “but Iraqis are fully aware of the terrorism agenda and will not slip into a sectarian conflict.”
The Obamacare facade is beginning to crumble
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow