01/14/2012, 00.00
IRAQ
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Suicide attack against Shia pilgrims in Basra kills at least 20

Suicide bomber blows himself up at a checkpoint near the city’s main mosque. Policemen are among the victims. The incident comes as Shia mark Arbain, one of the main celebrations on the Shia calendar.
Baghdad (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – At least 20 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on Shia pilgrims in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. They were marking the festival of Arbain, one of the main holy days of the Shia calendar.

The suicide bomber struck a checkpoint used by pilgrims on their way to a major Shia mosque to the west of Basra. Victims are said to include several policemen.

The attack follows a string of similar incidents against the Shia community that took the lives of hundreds of people and wounded thousands more in the past few weeks. Last week for instance, at least 72 people were killed in bomb attacks targeting Shia Muslims in southern Iraq and the capital, Baghdad.

Experts note that the attacks are a sign of growing tensions between Sunnis and Shias following the departure of US troops in December and the arrest order issued by Prime Minister al-Maliki, a Shia, against Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni.

Sources told AsiaNews that a plan is being implemented to complete the fragmentation of the country of 27 million people along confessional lines

If successful, it would mark the division of Iraq into a Shia area (61 per cent of the population) and a Sunni area (34 per cent, of which 17 per cent Kurdish).

It could also mean the final disappearance of Yazidis as well as Christians (4 per cent). The latter have already lost half of their community in the past 10 years.
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