Dozens Dead in another Black Friday
Shiite Worshippers Massacred
Suicide bombers went into two Shiite religious centers [Husayniyyahs] in Khaniqin northeast of Baghdad on Friday at the time of noon Friday prayers in congregation, and detonated their bombs. The death toll as of late Friday was being reported as 82 in the Western wire services. Al-Zaman says 100 were killed and 85 wounded. Relatives were combing through the rubble looking for loved ones. The religious centers belonged to Faili Kurds, a Shiite minority among the Kurds. Many Failis had fled from Diyala province to Iran during the time of Saddam, but tens of thousands are said to have returned since 2003. (The AP story giving the name of one of the wounded as “Omar” is a mistake; perhaps it was `Amr. Omar is a Sunni name and not one that typically would be carried by a Shiite).
The head of the municipal council in Diyalah province, Ibrahim Hasan al-Bajilan, announced that a curfew had been imposed on the city of Khaniqin [before the attacks] because information had been received warning of car bombings.
Elsewhere in Diyalah, a car bomb aimed at a passing military convoy wounded 4 Iraqis.
In a separate incident, guerrillas targeted the Hamra hotel, where numerous Western news crews are based. One minibus was detonated outside a security wall, blowing a hole in it that allowed another vehicle to enter. The second vehicle still could not get very near the Hamra Hotel, though the huge explosion that ensued did blow out windows, do damage, and knock back NBC and Boston Globe reporters. The main damage was done to surrounding civilian Iraqi residences, including an apartment complex.
In Ramadi, guerrillas launched a coordinated series of armed attacks on military targets, eliciting a counter-attack by US and Iraqi forces that killed 32 of the guerrillas.
Guerrillas kidnapped Tawfiq al-Yasiri, the head of the Sun of Iraq political list, which is running for parliament in the Dec. 15 elections.
In Dur, just north of Samarra, a funeral was held for Muzahim Abdul Latif, who was killed by American forces while he was walking in the streets of the city.
Some 70 Iraqis are attending a conference on national dialogue and reconciliation in Cairo, which begins its work on Saturday. President Hosni Mubarak opened the conference with a speech on Friday. The president of Algeria, Abdul Aziz Boutefliqah attended in his capacity as head of the Arab summit, along with the foreign ministers of 8 Arab nations (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt). European and United Nations officials were also there. It was unclear whether the Americans and multinational forces would be represented, or how.
Some officials who would only speak off the record to al-Zaman pointed out that other national reconciliation conferences have included both sides in the conflict and sought compromise. This conference, they said, would be more procedural than substantive (since the Baathists and fundamentalist Sunni Salafis are not well represented–though Harith al-Dhari, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars, is in attendance.) The consensus was that one should not expect too much from the conference.
Ali Larijani, the head of Iran’s National Security Council, met with Muwwafaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security advisor, and the two countries signed an agreement that would ease conditions for Shiite pilgrims to holy sites in Iraq and would provide for closer cooperation in fighting terrorism.