2 Blasts Near Shiite Holy Sites in Iraq

2 Blasts Near Shiite Holy Sites in Iraq
# 08 November 2010 17:12 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Two car bombs aimed at Shiite pilgrims exploded near two of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims on Monday as Iraqi leaders met in an inconclusive effort to resolve the country’s long political deadlock, APA reports quoting The New York Times.
The attacks, in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, killed 11 people and wounded about 50 others. A bus carrying Iranian religious tourists, who have flocked to the Shiite shrines since the fall of Saddam Hussein, appeared to be the targets of one of the bombs.
The explosions, which followed a bloody week in the capital, heightened concerns that Sunni insurgent groups were trying to whip up sectarian bloodshed at a politically precarious moment.
Iraqi politicians have been meeting inside and outside the capital over the past two weeks to work out a power-sharing deal to break an eight-month political stalemate that has undermined many Iraqis’ faith in their government’s ability to deliver basic services and security.
The competing coalitions failed to announce any agreement after meeting in the northern Kurdish city of Erbil on Monday, but said they would continue their discussions over the next two days here. Many analysts believe a new government could still be months away.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a staunch Shiite Muslim, appears within reach of securing another term as Iraq’s leader, but there are still many unresolved questions about which constituencies would claim other leadership posts and control of key ministries.
On Monday, the first attack came at about 8:30 a.m. in Karbala, striking a bus of Iranian pilgrims at one of the city’s main entrances, a chokepoint where traffic slows to a crawl. Karbala is home to the Shrine of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and one of Shiite Islam’s revered figures.
That attack left 7 people dead and 34 wounded, and the authorities said the Iranian pilgrims were its target. Since the American-led invasion, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have flowed into Iraq to visit the country’s Shiite holy sites.
About 50 miles to the south, a second car bomb rattled the old city of Najaf near a police checkpoint several hundred yards from the gold-domed Shrine of Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and a foundational figure in the centuries-old split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Four people were killed in that bombing, the police said.
Each year, the two holy cities draw millions of people on foot and in minibuses and cars for ritual pilgrimages, but they have become reliable targets for insurgents, who have killed scores of pilgrims in the last seven years.
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