Suicide car bomber kills 27 Shiite pilgrims in Iraq

Updated 04 January 2013
0

Suicide car bomber kills 27 Shiite pilgrims in Iraq

HILLA, Iraq: A suicide bomber driving a car killed at least 27 Shiite Muslims at a bus station in the Iraqi town of Mussayab on Thursday, police and medics said, as they were gathering to return home from a religious rite.
The attack, which also wounded at least 60, underlines sectarian tensions that threaten to further destabilize the country a year after US troops left.
Police said the bomber drove into a busy bus station where pilgrims were catching buses back to Baghdad and the northern provinces after the Arbain rite in the holy city of Karbala, where thousands make an annual pilgrimage.
Mussayab is 60 km (40 miles) south of the capital Baghdad.
“I was getting a sandwich when a very strong explosion rocked the place and the blast threw me away. When I regained my senses and stood up, I saw dozens of bodies,” said Ali Sabbar, a pilgrim who witnessed the explosion.
“Many cars were set on fire. I just left the place and didn’t even participate in the evacuation of the victims.”
Arbain has been a frequent target for militants since the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, who banned Shiite festivals.
A roadside bomb targeting a minibus transporting Shiite pilgrims back from Karbala also wounded 8 people in New Baghdad.
The latest violence followed nearly two weeks of protests against Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki,a Shiite, by thousands of people from the minority Sunni community in the western province of Anbar, which shares a border with Syria.
The protesters accuse Maliki of being under the sway of non-Arab Shiite neighbor Iran and of marginalizing Sunnis, who dominated Iraq until the 2003 US-led invasion.
They want Maliki to abolish anti-terrorism laws they say are used to persecute them.
The conflict in neighboring Syria, where a Sunni majority is fighting to topple government backed by Shiite Iran, is also whipping up sectarian sentiment in Iraq and the wider region.
Although violence is far lower than during the sectarian slaughter of 2006-2007, a total of 4,471 civilians died last year in what one rights group described as a “low-level war” with insurgents.
No group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks, but Iraq is home to several Sunni armed groups including a local branch of Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq, which often targets Shiites, seeking to re-ignite sectarian strife.
At least 23 people were killed and 87 wounded in attacks across Iraq on Monday.


Yemeni forces push further into Houthi-held territory in Hodeidah

Updated 48 min 25 sec ago
0

Yemeni forces push further into Houthi-held territory in Hodeidah

  • Backed by resistance forces, the army liberated al-Zaraniq Camp and the surrounding areas in the district of Durayhi in Hudeidah from Houthi militia
  • There were a number of children captured, who were fighting for the Houthi militia suffering from starvation and thirst

DUBAI: Yemen forces backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition made major advances into Houthi-held areas in Hodiedah over the last week the national army reported.

Backed by resistance forces, the army liberated al-Zaraniq Camp and the surrounding areas in the district of Durayhi in Hudeidah from Houthi militia.

There were a number of children captured, who were fighting for the Houthi militia suffering from starvation and thirst.

Local reports suggested that the army was less than 20km away from the densely populated city of Hodiedah, however Arab News cannot independently confirm this.

Abdulmalek al-Houthi, leader of the Iran-backed militia, reportedly tried to assure his followers that the losses in Hodeidah around the west coast are small.

The spokesperson for Yemen’s army, Sadeq Dawaid, told Sky News Arabia that after liberating Houthi areas, the army was then faced with heavily mined land which it had to clear.  

“Houthis have an obsession with planting landmines, they do it randomly often injuring and killing their own forces in the process,” Dawaid said.

“The landmines they plant also injure local residents,” he added.

Teams were formed to de-activate the thousands of landmines around Hodeidah.

According to army officials in Yemen, the country has been subjected to the “largest mine-laying operation since the end of the Second World War.”

The total number of mines laid by the militia exceeds half a million mines, and that this “huge amount continues to pose a sustainable threat to the lives of civilians.”

International human rights groups have previously condemned Iran-backed Houthi militias for their use of the banned antipersonnel landmines in Yemen that have caused numerous civilian casualties and hindered the safe return of people to displaced by fighting.