07/08/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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Bloody attack on Shiite festival leaves 60 dead and 300 wounded.

This morning seven victims in a double attack in the east and south of the capital. Yesterday, 30 people died and over 100 wounded. Sunnis who distributed food and water to Shi'ite pilgrims among the victims. The festival celebrates the eighth century religious leader Imam Moussa al-Khadim.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Attack continue to target Iraqi Shiite pilgrims visiting the shrine to Imam Musa al-Khadim, north of Baghdad. This morning, seven people were killed in two separate attacks, at least 70 wounded. The toll of victims over the last three days is 60 dead and more than 300 wounded. The festival dedicated to the Shiite religious leader - who lived in the eighth century, the seventh of the 12 imams of Shiite tradition - ends today.

Official Iraqi sources confirm the explosion of a roadside bomb and the deaths of four people (46 wounded) in the district of Bab al-Muazam, just east of the capital. Also this morning, a car bomb exploded in south-eastern district of Mashtal causing three deaths and at least 30 wounded.

These are only the latest in a trail of blood that has stained the festival dedicated to the Imam Moussa al-Khadim which each year draws hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims from across the country and neighbouring Iran to Baghdad. Yesterday 50 people were killed and 100 were injured in a series of attacks in different areas of the capital.

The most serious attack was the detonation of a suicide bomber among the crowd of faithful that left at least 30 dead. The bombers struck as pilgrims passed through the district of Adhamiya, a Sunni majority area to reach the mosque of Musa al-Khadim. A resident of Adhamiya tells of the attack: "We heard a loud explosion - Saif al-Azam reported to  AP - and then the shouts of people calling for help. We started transporting the injured to hospital before the arrival of ambulances".  He adds that some of his Sunni friends, engaged in distributing food and water to Shiite pilgrims, died in the attack.

The security measures wanted by authorities in Baghdad failed to prevent attacks. The police had closed to traffic in the Kadhimya Shiite area where the shrine is located, and over 200 thousand soldiers and officers guarded the main access roads to the place of worship. The movement of bicycles, scooters and small cars were also restricted to reduce the risk of attacks.  

Bombings and violence is not new to this pilgrimage. In 2005, the most severe episode: almost 1,000 pilgrims died while crossing the bridge of imams which joins Kadhimya and Adhamiya over the Tigris River. The pilgrim stampede was unleashed by false rumours of a suicide bomber ready to blow themselves up in the crowd. Last year two women suicide bombers blew themselves up near the mosque, killing 65 people including 20 Iranian pilgrims.

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