Iraqis mourn attack on Sayyed Muhammad(as) shrine in Balad
By: Ismail Zabeeh
BALAD, Iraq: Iraqis on Friday mourned the terror attack on revered
shrine of Hazrat Abu Jafar Sayyed Muhammad bin Imam Ali al Hadi(as)
and said they won't let the Islamic State ignite a new conflict
between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
At least 45 people were martyred and more than 62 wounded when
suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a shrine in this town, 50 miles
north of Baghdad, Iraqi police said.
Islamic State militants, "are trying to bring us back to the
sectarian era" in 2006-07, said Mahmoud Salim, 42, a shopkeeper who
witnessed the assault. “They are hitting religious place to arouse
the anger of Shiites and Sunnis again. But they will fail.”
Salim was at the Sayyid Mohammed shrine when the terrorists struck.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Police said the attack started Thursday night with mortar fire
and then a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of policemen
at the entrance, the Associated Press reported. A second bomber and
nine gunmen entered the shrine and attacked security forces and
civilians. A third bomber was killed before he detonated his
explosives, police told the AP.
People had gathered at the shrine for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr,
which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
"The shrine was very busy,” said Salim. “People usually come to
visit the shrine and spend some time in the market during Eid. There
is no other activity can be done in the city.”
The attack follows a horrific suicide bombing in a crowded shopping
district in Baghdad on Sunday that killed at least 300 people, the
worst single bombing in Iraq since the U.S. invaded the country in
2003. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, too.
Iraqi forces have gradually driven the militants out of cities they
seized in 2014. Last month, Iraqi forces liberated Fallujah, about
40 miles west of Baghdad, and are now focusing on retaking Mosul,
the country's second largest city.
In response to the latest incident, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
fired Baghdad’s security chief on Friday, the AP reported.
Abo Layan Al Timimi, 38, a teacher who lost his uncle and cousin in
the attack, said the militants encircled Balad in 2014 but never
managed to conquer it despite a six-month-long siege. "I can't
imagine after that how we thought the threat was over,” he said.
A distraught Al Timimi said his deceased relatives had young
children. "They left little kids behind,” he said. “Who will look
after them? Who can help them?"
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