Women dressed in black had just set out large caldrons to cook the traditional feast on the holy day of Ashura, a simple meal of rice and lamb in a tomato-based sauce. Children crowded around the pots as men wailed in a ritualistic mourning ceremony and guards scanned the crowd at the Shiite mosque near Baquba for would-be killers.
Then a bomb exploded.
"I saw a head land a few feet from me," said Muhammad Saad, an 18-year-old student who was wounded in the blast. "Hands and legs were all around."
At least 23 people were killed in the attack, the police said.
Only 35 miles to the southeast, in Baghdad, the Sunni residents of the Adhamiya neighborhood spent the day hiding in basements and under door frames, as explosions burst around them. At least 30 mortar shells rained down on the area, pulverizing homes and people.
The above is from Marc Santora's "50 Iraqis Die as Holiday Brings Spasm of Sectarian Killing" in this morning's New York Times -- the count was over fifty and the article, despite the headline, says "at least fifty." Martha notes Ernesto Londoño and Saad Sarhan's "Violence Targeted at Shiites On Holy Day Kills 60 in Iraq" (Washington Post):
Attackers using bombs, rockets and guns killed at least 60 Shiite worshipers Tuesday as they observed their most sacred holiday, Iraqi officials said.
The day's deadliest incident occurred in the town of Baladruz, in Diyala province in eastern Iraq, when a suicide bomber walked through the main gate of the Ali al-Akbar mosque and detonated his explosives, killing 17 people and injuring at least 57, according to Ali al-Khaiyam, a police spokesman.
Also on yesterday's violence, we'll note Borzou Daragahi's "As violence rages in Iraq, details emerge about arrests after a raid that killed five U.S. soldiers" (Los Angeles Times):
Sectarian warfare directed mostly at Shiite Muslim pilgrims and worshipers celebrating the climax of an important religious holiday left more than 60 Iraqis dead Tuesday.
In addition, details emerged about arrests in the wake of a bold Jan. 20 insurgent raid on a joint U.S.-Iraqi security compound in Karbala in which a U.S. soldier was killed and four other American soldiers were captured and shot to death miles away.
A police official in Hillah said four Saudi Arabians staying in a Karbala hotel were arrested in connection with the attack. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. and Iraqi officials had seized maps and other documents.
The official also said U.S. officials were heading the investigation of the well-synchronized raid, in which gunmen posing as American soldiers or contractors stormed the compound, disabled U.S. vehicles and whisked away the soldiers.
Four others of undetermined nationality also were arrested near the site where the gunmen shot the soldiers, shed their equipment and fled.
Aside from a news release issued Friday, U.S. officials have declined to comment on the raid.
Rachel notes that Daragahi was a guest on yesterday's Democracy Now! for any who missed it (we did, Ava, Jess and I are speaking and we're in an area where DN! is on TV -- local -- but it's not on the radio). Rachel writes that he's on at the end of the show for anyone who wants to catch it.
Missing in the stories above is discovered corpses. AP today has this on corpses discovered so far on Wednesday (the above excerpts covered Tuesday):
Elsewhere, six tortured bodies were found blindfolded and with their hands and legs bound in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, hospital officials said.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org. Give me about 30 to 50 minutes on the next entry. There are a ton of e-mails on one topic (guess which one) and I want to read them all before I even read the thing that's angered so many.
the new york times