Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The death toll - still provisional - from a series of shootings and bombings that have struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and a group of police officers in the city of Hilla, in the center of ' Iraq stands at 44 dead. The explosions today, coinciding with one of the most important religious holidays, have also caused dozens of casualties. The attacks are a further sign of deep conflict that is pitting the various ethnicities and religions that make up the country, once united under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and Nasser, against each other in a "war" over the division of the nation's territory and wealth - oil and natural gas. (see AsiaNews 10/01/2012 The conflict between Shiites and Sunnis for sectarian division of Iraq).
According to preliminary reports, in the capital Baghdad bombs were detonated
amongst at least nine groups of Shiite pilgrims gathered to celebrate the
anniversary of the death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, great grandson of the
Prophet Muhammad. Other witnesses also reported a series of shootings that have
claimed over 20 dead and dozens injured. Today's episode is just the latest in
a series of attacks that have targeted the Iraqi Shiite community. June 10 last
in Baghdad, at least four people died after an attack near a shrine.
In the city of Hilla, in the center of the country, two bombs, one of which was a suicide bomb, struck outside a restaurant frequented by local police forces, leaving 22 dead and wounded 38, some of them in serious condition. Two other car bombs killed four people in the mostly Shiite town of Balad, about 80 km north of Baghdad.
The violence in Iraq declined progressively after the peak recorded in 2006 and 2007. However, attacks remain a constant threat, especially in the capital Baghdad. Official sources report that, in the month of May, a total of 132 Iraqis died as a result of violence in different parts of the country.