Turkey says Iraq bombings aimed at stirring sectarian strife

Turkey has strongly condemned a string of bombings across Iraq on Wednesday, claiming that the nature of the terrorist attacks clearly show that “evil circles” are trying to stir up sectarian strife in the war-torn country.

A coordinated wave of car bombs struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and several other cities on Wednesday, killing at least 66 people and wounding more than 200 in one of the deadliest days in Iraq since US troops withdrew from the country. Wednesday’s blasts were the third this week targeting the annual pilgrimage that sees hundreds of thousands of Shiites converge on a golden-domed shrine in Baghdad’s northern neighborhood of Kadhimiyah to commemorate the eighth-century death of a revered Shiite saint Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. The commemoration culminates on Saturday.

 Most of the 16 separate explosions that rocked the country targeted Shiite pilgrims in five cities, but two hit offices of political parties linked to Iraq’s Kurdish minority in the north. Authorities had tightened security ahead of the pilgrimage, including a blockade of the mainly Sunni area of Adhamiyah, which is near the twin-domed Shiite shrine.

Turkey expressed its condolences and said the targeting of shrines of Shiite brothers is clear evidence that the attacks are aimed at reviving sectarian discord in the country.

The bloodshed comes against a backdrop of political divisions that have raised tensions and threatened to provoke a new round of violence that once pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents who frequently target Shiites in Iraq.

The level of violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq since peaking in 2006-2007 as the country faced a Sunni-led insurgency and retaliatory sectarian fighting that broke out after the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. But Iraqis still face near-daily attacks and Shiite pilgrimages are often targeted.

Turkey said it has full faith that the Iraqi people will act with common sense and restraint. The statement also added that Turkey considers every act of terror, regardless of its source, a grave crime against humanity. It further said Turkey will continue in solidarity with the Iraqi people in their fight against terrorism.

 


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