JNN 02 Jan 2012 BAGHDAD – At least 23 people were killed and 87 wounded in attacks across Iraq on Monday, police said, underlining sectarian and ethnic divisions that threaten to further destabilize the country Several pilgrims have been killed and injured in a bomb explosion that hit Iraq’s central city of Babil, Press reports.
The incident took place on Wednesday after a car bomb exploded in the city, with reports saying many people were also injured.
In the Shi’ite majority city of Hilla, also in the south, a parked car bomb went off near the convoy of the governor of Babil province, missing him but killing two other people, police said.
“We heard the sound of a big explosion and the windows of our office shattered. We immediately lay on the ground,” said 28-year-old Mohammed Ahmed, who works at a hospital near the site of the explosion.
No group claimed responsibility for any of Monday’s attacks, which targeted government officials, police patrols and that targeted Shia Muslims heading to the holy city of Karbala to commemorate the religious ceremony of Arbaeen.
In the capital Baghdad, five people were killed by a parked car bomb targeting pilgrims before the event of Arbaeen ,which marks the 40th Days after the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain a.s, in Karbala in 61 , Hijri, By the forces Loyal to the tyrant Ruler Yazid s/o Mavia .
Although violence is far lower than during the sectarian slaughter of 2006-2007, about 2,000 people have been killed in Iraq this year following the withdrawal last December of U.S. troops, who led an invasion in 2003 to overthrow Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.
Millions of Shia pilgrims from all over the world are gradually arriving in the holy city, located 80 kilometers south of Baghdad to commemorate the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.
Scores of people have been killed in recent weeks across Iraq in attacks targeting pilgrims as they embark on the traditional walk to Karbala for the commemoration event, which will be held on Thursday.
On December 31, at least 23 people, including children, were killed and 80 others injured in a fresh wave of attacks in several cities and towns in Iraq.
Seven people from the same family were killed by bomb blasts near their home in the town of Mussayab, south of Baghdad.
On December 24, at least 48 people were killed and over 110 others wounded in similar attacks targeting both security guards and civilians across the country, marking the deadliest day in Iraq since November 29, when at least 50 people lost their lives.
Violence also hit Iraq’s disputed territories, over which both the central government and the autonomous Kurdish region claim jurisdiction.
Three militants and one Kurdish guard were killed in the oil-producing, ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, where militants driving a car packed with explosives tried to break into a Kurdish security office.
Earlier on Monday, two policemen were killed in Kirkuk when a bomb they were trying to detonate exploded prematurely. An army official and his bodyguard were also killed in a drive-by shooting in the south of the city.
Kirkuk lies at the heart of a feud between Baghdad and Kurdistan over land and oil rights, which escalated last month when both sides deployed their respective armies to the swath of territory along their contested internal boundary.
Efforts to ease the standoff stalled when President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd seen as a steadying influence, suffered a stroke and was flown abroad for medical care in December
On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, himself a Sunni, was forced to flee a protest in Ramadi when demonstrators pelted him with stones and bottles.
The civil war in neighboring Syria, where Wahabi Insurgents are fighting to topple the rule of Bashar al Asad , is also whipping up sectarian sentiment in Iraq.
“The toppling of President Bashar al-Assad and empowerment of Wahabis (in Syria) will definitely encourage al Qaeda to regain ground,” Younis said.
The Iraqi government has stepped up efforts to increase security across the country over the past few months.