Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Iraq death toll rises amid backlash fears

File under: Courage under fire. My gawd, but these people are devoted.
Iraqi insurgents killed nine more Shiite pilgrims on Wednesday as the toll from the previous day's suicide attack rose to 117, amid fears that a backlash could undermine the US-led Baghdad security plan.

At least two suicide bombers detonated explosive vests on Tuesday in a crowd of Shiites marching through the central town of Hilla on foot towards the holy city of Karbala for Friday's Arbaeen religious festival.

Doctor Saad al-Shemari of Hilla hospital told AFP that, along with the 117 dead, there were another 173 wounded -- many of them critically -- and that the number of fatalities was expected to rise still further.

"After every kind of attack, we're concerned about restarting the cycle of sectarian violence," said US spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Garver.

"So we hope that people remain calm and don't play into the terrorists' hands, by restarting the cycle, and let the Iraqi security forces do their job. We're concerned about every attack," he said.

The killings continued on Wednesday as -- undaunted -- thousands of pilgrims continued their march of devotion, carrying banners and copies of the Koran and marching hundreds of kilometres to Karbala's revered shrines.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd guess you're afraid to walk a deserted street at night in the US.

These pilgrims know they will most likely be shot at and still take their chances.

(read more)

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