Gunmen, some on rooftops, ambushed Shi'ite pilgrims walking in their tens of thousands to a sacred shrine for a major festival in Baghdad, killing up to 20 and wounding more than 300, Iraqi officials said.
"Most of the attacks are taking place when pilgrims are crossing the neighboring areas into Kadhimiya," a Health Ministry spokesman said, referring to the northern suburb where the shrine is the focal point of the two-day religious ceremony.
Twenty pilgrims were killed and 300 wounded, spokesman Qasim Yahya Allawi said.
Heavy security was meant to lower the ever-present danger of sectarian strife at a festival with a bloody history. Last year rumors of a suicide bomber sparked a stampede that killed 1,000 people, mostly women and children.
300 wounded with rifles and machineguns? That's starting to look a lot more like the classic civil war that everyone caricatures. There's the perception that the Iraqi violence isn't a civil war because it isn't a hot civil war, in that the attacks comprising it are done clandestinely with carbombs and the like, rather than through pitched street battles between Sunni and Shiite. Well, perhaps this will convince the doubters.
Juan Cole adds that this occurred in an area of Baghdad that has recently received 3500 additional troops to help with security concerns, and a vehicle curfew was in effect to prevent carbombings. Additional, yet insufficient, security forces are becoming a familiar refrain, eh?