Sunni-Shi’ite Jihad Update. “Extremists target Iraqi Shiite pilgrims,” by David Rising for the Associated Press:
BAGHDAD – A sniper killed a Shiite pilgrim on a Baghdad bridge Monday while another was killed and six injured in other attacks as tens of thousands of faithful made their way to the southern city of Karbala for a major religious commemoration.
Iraqi security forces have mounted a major operation to protect Shiite pilgrims. Sunni religious extremists, including al-Qaida in Iraq, have launched massive and deadly attacks against pilgrims during Shiite celebrations in the past.
Despite the security measures, one pilgrim was shot on Baghdad’s Jadiriyah bridge and gunmen hiding in an orchard south of the capital opened fire on another group, killing one and injuring three others.
Three more pilgrims were injured when gunmen blasted them in a drive-by shooting in southwestern Baghdad and police prevented another attack, defusing two roadside
bombs planted along the route to Karbala in Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, officials said.
More than a million Shiites from throughout the world were expected to converge
on the Shiite holy city for the celebrations, which reach their high point late Tuesday and early Wednesday. The Shabaniyah festival marks the birth of Mohammed al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shiite imam who disappeared in the 9th century.