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Shia ceremonies in Iraq targeted, many killed

world Updated: Nov 04, 2014 01:51 IST

A suicide bomber killed at least 23 people in a procession of Shia Muslims marking the ritual of Ashoura in northeast Nigeria’s Yobe state on Monday, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) jihadist group claimed responsibility for two car bomb attacks against Shias in Baghdad, with Iraq under tight security Monday ahead of the annual commemorations.

The jihadists are also reported to have slaughtered dozens of members of the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe, which took up arms against them in Anbar.

On Monday, tribal leader Naim al-Kuoud al-Nimrawi said that ISIS “executed 36 people, including four women and three children” on Sunday.

A statement by ISIS posted on jihadist websites said “the heroes of Islam” detonated one car bomb in central Baghdad targeting Shia security personnel and the other in the Shia-majority Sadr City ara in the capital’s north.

While ISIS targeted Shias in Iraq and Syria, it was believed that Boko Haram was behind the bombing in Nigeria.

Boko Haram’s five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state, which has killed thousands, is seen as the main security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer.

There seemed to be no respite in Nigeria where a raid on a prison in central Nigeria’s Kogi state freed 132 inmates, the area governor’s office said.

It was believed that Boko Haram was responsible for the prison-break as well.

Meanwhile, Iraq stepped up security amid fears of ISIS launching major attacks as thousands of Shias flocked Monday to the shrine city of Karbala for an annual pilgrimage.

The pilgrims are prime targets for the ISIS jihadists, who have carried out a series of mass executions in recent days, killing scores of members of a tribe in
Iraq’s western Anbar province.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from Iraq and abroad are heading to Karbala for the Tuesday peak of Ashura, which marks the death of Imam Hussein, one of the most revered figures in Shia Islam.

Like other Sunni extremists, ISIS considers Shiites heretics.

Authorities have deployed thousands of security personnel and allied militiamen to protect the pilgrims, in a major test for the new government headed by PM Haidar al-Abadi in Iraq.