Lebanese worshippers blown up in Iraq
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012
A roadside bomb exploded near a bus carrying Lebanese Shia pilgrims in a Sunni area of western Iraq on Wednesday, killing three and wounding at least 10 others, police and medics said.
"A roadside bomb exploded in the Khamsat Kilo area as a bus carrying Lebanese pilgrims... passed on the highway, killing three of them and wounding 10," a first lieutenant in the Anbar provincial police said, referring to an area west of the provincial capital Ramadi.
A medical source at a mortuary in Ramadi confirmed the death toll, but said that 11 people -- six women and five men -- were wounded in the attack.
A lieutenant colonel in the Ramadi police said there were around 40 Lebanese Shia pilgrims on the bus, among them women and children, who were headed to Shia holy sites.
Iraq is home to some of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, to which hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock each year. Pilgrims are periodically attacked, often with bombs.
Brutal sectarian fighting tore across Iraq beginning in 2006, leaving tens of thousands of people dead.
While the violence was brought under control by a US troop surge and by Sunni tribesmen switching sides to fight against insurgents, sectarian tensions in Iraq remain high.
The latest attacks come a day after a number of Lebanese Shia pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria, exacerbating a political crisis that has threatened to undermine the country's security.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday calmed the situation by urging angry family relatives to abandon street protests in the capital Beirut.
"We understand the emotions expressed... This is our responsibility... We can express our discontent in a civilized way," he said.
"If the parents want to protest or have a sit-in in a mosque, it's their right. But, in the name of Hezbollah and Amal, nobody should block roads," he added.