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Karbala and the surge of Iraq attacks

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The suicide attacks against Iraqi police this week were ominous enough. But today's twin suicide bombings in the shrine city of Karbala, as throngs of Shiite pilgrims gathered to commemorate Imam Hussein, are a reminder that there's still plenty of sectarian hatred in Iraq and that the business of national reconciliation has only just begun.

About 50 people were killed in today's attack, probably by the supporters of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Suicide attacks on police yesterday and today in Baquba, 50 miles north of Baghdad, claimed about ten lives. On Tuesday in Tikrit, hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, over 60 people were killed in a suicide attack on a police recruiting station.

Massive suicide attacks on Shiite pilgrims and places of worship have been a fact of life in Iraq from practically the moment in March 2003 when Saddam's statue was pulled down in Firdos Square in Baghdad. The following August, two huge car bombs outside the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf murdered 83 people, among them Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the country's two large Shiite political parties.


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