By Kareem Raheem
BAGHDAD Oct 5 Two suicide bombers targeted
Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq on Saturday, killing 60 people on the
eve of the anniversary of one of their imams' deaths, police and
medics said on Saturday.
In the northern city of Mosul, unidentified gunmen shot two
Iraqi television journalists dead as they were filming, security
No group immediately claimed responsibility for either of
the bombings, but such attacks are the hallmark of Sunni
Islamist al Qaeda, which views Shi'ites as non-believers and has
been regaining momentum this year.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a
checkpoint, killing 48 Shi'ite pilgrims on their way to visit a
shrine in the Kadhimiya district, police and medical sources
Earlier on Saturday, another suicide bomber blew himself up
inside a cafe in a mainly Shi'ite town of Balad, 80 km (50
miles) north of Baghdad, killing 12 people. The cafe was
targeted in an almost identical bombing 40 days ago.
"I received the corpse of my cousin. It was completely
charred and difficult to identify," said Abdullah al-Baldawi,
whose relative was killed in the cafe bombing.
Relations between Islam's two main denominations have come
under acute strain from the conflict in Syria, which has drawn
fighters from Iraq and the wider Middle East into a sectarian
More than 6,000 people have been killed in violence across
the country this year, according to monitoring group Iraq Body
Count, reversing a decline in sectarian bloodshed that had
climaxed in 2006-07.
It was not clear who was behind the killing of the
journalists, who worked for Iraqi television channel al-Sharqiya
News, which is often critical of the Shi'ite-led government and
is popular among the country's Sunni minority.
"They shot them in the chest and head, killing them
instantly," said a security source who declined to be named.
Iraq is considered one of the most dangerous countries for
journalists. According to the Baghdad-based Journalism Freedoms
Observatory, 261 journalists have been killed and 46 kidnapped
since 2003, the year of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Mosul, capital of the predominantly Sunni province of
Nineveh, is a stronghold for Islamist and other insurgents.
A journalist from Mosul said insurgents in the city changed
their tactics and targets from time to time, and may now have
set their sights on journalists, after previous spates of
attacks against traffic police and mayors.
"I will leave the city of Mosul and live in the outskirts
until things calm down," said the journalist on condition of
The Journalists' Syndicate denounced the killings as a
"criminal act", demanding the authorities track down the
perpetrators and do more to protect the media.
Nineveh governor Atheel al-Nujaifi condemned the killings:
"It aims to muzzle the voice of people, the voice of
Iraq's Sunni community has grown increasingly resentful of a
government it accuses of marginalising their sect since coming
to power after the U.S.-led invasion that vanquished Saddam
Hussein in 2003.
Sunnis launched street protests in December after Shi'ite
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sought to arrest a senior Sunni
politician. A bloody raid by security forces on a protest camp
in April touched off a violent backlash by Sunni militants.
The United Nations Mission in Iraq said nearly 900 civilians
were killed across Iraq in September, raising the death toll so
far this year to well above the total for 2013.