13 Dead in Pilgrimage Bombing, 40 wounded
Maliki Reconsiders US Troops’ Immunity
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pledged Wednesday to reconsider current Iraqi policy, of allowing US GIS to enjoy a form of extraterritoriality and to be tried by the US for crimes commited while in uniform in Iraq. His remarks were sparked by public outcry in Iraq over the rape-murder of a 15-year-old girl and the killing of her family by a US soldier. The issue could become a major irritant in the relations of the Americans to Iraqis.
Early Thursday morning, guerrillas hit busloads of Iranian pilgrims to the Shiite shrines in Kufa and Najaf. Reuters reports that:
‘ A suicide car bomber blasted two coach-loads of Iranian pilgrims outside a Shiite Muslim shrine in Iraq at dawn on Thursday, killing  people and wounding 40, police and hospital sources said. The bomber drove his car between the two coaches as they arrived at the Maithem al-Tamar shrine in Kufa, a religious center on the outskirts of the main Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. ‘
Later reports up the tally to 12 dead, while Aljazeera is giving 13 dead, 5 of them Iranian pilgrims.
The Shiite community of Iraq will be very upset about this attack, both on religious and secular grounds. Religiously, Iranian Shiites are their coreligionists and the act of pilgrimage is highly valued. But in addition, anything that harms the flow of pilgrims from Iran to Najaf hurts the Iraqi Shiites there financially.
The Najafis are seeking a multi-million dollar airport to fly in the pilgrims.
On Wednesday, bombings and shootings had left at least 18 dead.
Guerrillas set off a big car bomb in the Washash District of Baghdad near a mosque, killing 6 and wounding 18. Guerrillas staged two other major bombings in the capital.
Guerrillas also set off bombs in Mosul and Kirkuk, clearly seeking to inflict damage on the nascent Iraqi security forces.
The kidnappers of MP Tayseer al-Mashhadani have made specific demands, including a timetable for US withdrawal, the release of Iraqis detained by the US, and an end to US military raids on Husayniyahs or edifices used by Shiites to commemorate the martyrdom of their Imams.
If this claim of responsibility is accurate, the kidnappers sound like splinter or militant Mahdi Army guerrillas.
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