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Iraqi Police: 15 More Deaths in Attacks on Pilgrims


07 March 2007

Iraqi security officials say at least 15 more people have been killed as insurgents continue to target Shi'ite pilgrims heading to Karbala for a religious observance.

Police say a car bomb in southern Baghdad's Saidiya district targeted Shi'ite pilgrims and police Wednesday, killing eight people. A separate attack in the mostly Shi'ite district of Dora killed seven pilgrims and wounded at least 10 more.

On Tuesday, around 140 Shi'ite pilgrims were killed in a series of bombings and shooting attacks across Iraq.

The deadliest incident occurred in the town of Hillah (south of Baghdad), where two suicide bombers blew themselves up on a street crowded with worshippers. The death toll in Hillah has risen above 100 as more people succumb to their injuries.

The commander of coalition forces in Iraq, U.S. General David Petraeus, and U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, issued a joint statement, condemning "brutal acts of violence" against the Iraqi people.

Also Wednesday, an Iraqi Shi'ite political party said it is separating from the powerful Shi'ite coalition that dominates Iraq's parliament.

The Fadhila party, which holds 15 of the Iraqi parliament's 275 seats, announced that it is withdrawing from the ruling United Iraqi Alliance.

Reports say the move could weaken the Shi'ite alliance and the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In a written statement, Fadhila said it believes the first step to saving Iraq is to dismantle sectarian-based blocs, which it says have divided the Iraqi people. The group says it will operate in parliament as an independent party.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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