Updated at 10:46 p.m. EST, Jan. 4, 2009
Thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims,
many foreign, are making
their way to Karbala to observe the Ashuraa holiday which culminates in three
days. As in the past, troublemakers have taken advantage of the 10-day holiday
despite increases in security. Overall, at least 27 Iraqis were killed and
52 Iraqis were wounded across Iraq, while approximately 16 Iranians were
killed and 37 more were wounded at an important shrine in Baghdad. No Coalition
deaths were reported. Meanwhile, outgoing U.S. Vice President Cheney said
that the U.S. is close to achieving its aims in Iraq, and U.S. forces handed over
authority of a security group in Diyala to the Iraqis.
a suicide bomber struck at the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in Kadhimiya,
where he killed
40 people and wounded 79 others. About 16 of the dead and 32 of the wounded
are believed to
be Iranian pilgrims. One witness said
that the bomber, earlier believed to be female, would have had to cross several
checkpoints before reaching the one just outside the shrine.
in Baghdad, a roadside bomb in Saidiya wounded
three people, including an Iraqi army officer. A body
was found on Palestine Street. Also, officials in the Green Zone observed
"Army Day" and reiterated their pledge to make Iraq a more secure, stable country.
In Mosul, a pair of bombs yesterday separately killed
one civilian and wounded a security officer. Also, four al-Qaeda suspects
bomb near Mandali killed
one shepherd and wounded a second.
Iranian pilgrims were wounded when they came across a roadside bomb in Khanaqin.
The return of displaced families to Balad Ruz was delayed
because intelligence officials fear that over 100 al-Qaeda members have concentrated
there, making it unsafe for the refugees to return.
Three suspects were
detained in Hawija.
Four wanted suspects were captured
across Basra, while an IED was defused in al-Deir.
men were arrested in Daquq.
Seven suspects were detained
Karbala police have instituted
a complete car ban during Ashuraa observances. This includes even official vehicles.
During a ceremony in Baquba today, U.S. authorities handed
over control of the provincial Awakening Councils to their Iraqi counterparts.
These Sunni-populated councils have been credited with reducing the violence across
Iraq, but the central government is wary of them because many members were former
militants. The member likewise do not trust the Shi'ite-led central government
to keep their end of the bargain which includes paying the members their salaries.
The handover in Diyala province is even trickier as the province remains politically
sensitive and violent.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis