02/18/2005, 00.00
Send to a friend

Iraq mosque attacks kill 17 amid Shiite ceremony

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution leader, responds to terrorist attack: "We, Shi'tes, are opened to all Iraqis: they are partners in this nation".

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Suicide bombers killed at least 17 people in attacks on two Shi'ite mosques in Baghdad on Friday as thousands of Shi'ites - Iraq's majority Muslim sect - commemorated Ashura, the main event in their religious calendar.

In the first attack, a man wearing an explosives-packed vest merged into a crowd near a mosque in the Doura district of southwestern Baghdad and blew himself up, survivors said. The blast killed 14 people and wounded at least 40. Soon afterwards, an explosion shook a second Shi'ite mosque in western Baghdad, the U.S. military and police sources said. Two suicide bombers approached a crowd outside the mosque. They were spotted by police, who shot them, but one still blew himself up, killing three people and wounding five.

The attacks came as thousands of Shi'ites marched through the city for Ashura in a show of strength a day after a Shi'ite alliance was confirmed as the winner of last month's historic election, handing the community power for the first time. Friday's attacks recalled Ashura last year, when 170 people were killed in a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad and Kerbala, a holy city to the south of Baghdad where the Ashura ritual, commemorating a 7th century martyr, is most intense.

However, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the main party in the Shi'ite alliance that won the Jan. 30 election, addressed the crowd with a message of political conciliation. "I call on all Iraqis to unite and I assure everyone the Iraq we want is a unified and secure Iraq where every citizen, without exception, enjoys justice and equality," Hakim told the crowd, which chanted "Hussein, Hussein" and "God is Greatest". "We say it now and we will always say it, that we are open to all Iraqis, because they are partners in this nation," he said in one of the strongest declarations yet of Shi'ite intentions to include Sunnis in the political process.

Iraq's Electoral Commission announced yesterday that the main Shi'ite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, had secured 140 seats in the assembly, just enough for a slim majority. A Kurdish alliance came second and will have 75 seats, while a list headed by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, will have 40. Sunnis Arabs have fewer than 10 seats.

A two-thirds majority is needed in the assembly to decide the top government posts, a margin the Shi'ite alliance could secure if it allies with the Kurdish coalition. Intense talks have been going on for two weeks to determine who will take the top positions, with the Kurds expected to get the presidency and the Shi'ite bloc the prime minister's post.

Yesterday Carlos Valenzuela, the United Nations election expert in Iraq, declared that with announcement of final election results, the Iraqi people have shown the world that they were really up to the occasion and that made this process an immense success. "We congratulate them for it" Valenzuela said. (LF)

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Bishop of Kirkuk: voting is a national and religious duty
Europe's leaders offer "strong support" to Iraq
A Sunni is the Speaker of the new Iraqi parliament
Expatriates vote in Iraqi election
Mosul public funeral cancelled after attack


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”