Entries in Shiite (14)


Suicide Bombing in Pakistan Kills 30, Injures 50

George Doyle/Thinkstock(KARACHI, Pakistan) -- Pakistan's largest city was the site of a deadly suicide bomb blast on Sunday morning.

The explosion is the latest attack on Pakistan's Shiite minority. The bomber reportedly struck directly outside a Shiite mosque as people were leaving, killing at least 30 people and injuring at least 50 more. According to the BBC, the explosion destroyed several buildings and set others on fire in the residential area.

While Karachi is often named among the most dangerous cities in the world, there had not been a targeted suicide attack in quite a while.

Pakistan's Shiite minority are often the target of attacks from Sunni militant groups, according to the BBC.

Shiites in other areas of Pakistan have already begun to retaliate and form armed militias. Some fear that if similar organizing were to occur in Karachi, the violence could spin out of control.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis Killed in Separate Bombings

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- Neither Shiites nor Sunnis were spared deadly attacks in Iraq Sunday, coming on the second day of the holy month of Ramadan.

Overall, violence has been on the wane in Iraq more than six months after all U.S. military forces withdrew from the country.

However, Sunday's attacks could give ammunition to those who worry that Iraq could again descend into sectarian warfare that nearly tore the country apart from 2005-2007, given that one side will blame the other for Sunday's assaults.

Most of the Shiite fatalities occurred in Baghdad's southern outskirts around sundown when a bomb blew up in a crowded marketplace.  Overall, 25 Shiites died in attacks launched in Baghdad and the central city of Najaf, with dozens more wounded.

Later in the day, two Sunni towns were targeted with bombings by insurgents, leaving at least 18 people dead and over 50 injured in what some speculate were in retaliation for the strikes against Shiites.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Islamic Cleric Undertakes Mission to Keep Iraq Unified

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr finds himself in the role of peacemaker in an attempt to calm a crisis that threatens to split Iraq.

Al-Sadr, who is pro-Iran and vehemently anti-America, traveled to Iraq's semiautonomous northern Kurdish region on Thursday to try and convince its president, Massud Barzani, to give up secession plans.

Both the Kurds and Sunnis say they are being marginalized by the Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad, with accusations that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to consolidate as much power as possible.

Having already met with al-Maliki, the cleric seemed to be sympathetic to those on the outside of the government, saying, "Minorities are an important part of Iraq, and we have to bring them to participate in building Iraq, politically, economically and in security."

He also called for "canceling the policy of neglect and marginalization."

Al-Sadr says that he has an 18-point plan to end the stalemate that would be accomplished through inclusiveness and dialogue.  Barzani is willing to give the government until September to change course or else he'll call for an election to secede from Iraq.

Sunnis don't have the same political sway.  Their recourse instead is to launch insurgent attacks that have kept national security forces on a constant state of alert.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Sunni Vice President Accused of Ordering Assassinations

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Post-U.S. occupied Iraq is already undergoing its first major governmental crisis.

Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is facing an arrest warrant after being charged with overseeing a death squad that has allegedly assassinated government and security officials.

The Shiite leaders of Iraq said the accusations against al-Hashimi are based on the confessions of three men claiming to have worked for the vice president as bodyguards.

Their "confessions" broadcast on state-run TV allege they both planted and set off bombs in public squares as well as firing on convoys carrying Shiite officials.

One of the men claiming to work for al-Hashimi said he personally received $3,000 from his boss after carrying out an assassination.

Al-Hashimi's office has denied all the charges despite acknowledging that the men worked for him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pakistani Extremist Group Says It Attacked Shiites in Afghanistan

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Dozens were killed in Afghanistan Tuesday during a series of coordinated attacks that targeted Shiite Muslims observing their holy day of Ashura.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the bombings that left at least 63 dead in Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-i-Sharif.  One U.S. citizen was among those killed in the attacks, the American embassy in Kabul confirmed.  

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement, "Never in our history have there been such cruel attacks on religious observances.  The enemies of Afghanistan do not want us to live under one roof with peace and harmony."

It's believed that this unprecedented instance of sectarian violence in Afghanistan was designed to undermine Karzai's fragile government as well as send a message that other groups besides the Taliban oppose the country's attempt at establishing a Western-style democracy.

For its part, the Taliban denied it was behind the attacks, saying, "We strongly condemn this wild and inhuman act by our enemies, who are trying to blame us and trying to divide Afghans by doing such attacks on Muslims."

Still, there's suspicion that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has not operated in Afghanistan before, might be supported by the Taliban, al Qaeda and extremist militant groups in Pakistan.  The country's rogue spy agency, the ISI, may also have a role in the group's operations in order to spark a sectarian feud in Afghanistan between Shiites and Sunnis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dozens Killed, Injured in Attacks During Holy Holiday in Afghanistan

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: The Taliban has issued a statement denying any kind of involvement in Tuesday's attacks in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- For the first time, militants targeted Shiite mourners in Afghanistan on one of their holiest holidays Tuesday, setting off bombs in downtown Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, according to police officials.

In the most significant attack, at least 54 people were killed and 164 injured, according to the Afghan health ministry, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Abul Fazel Shrine in the middle of Kabul, not far from the ministry of defense and the presidential palace.  Reporters at the shrine described a horrific scene, with bodies of the dead and injured strewn across the entry of the shrine and the street outside.

Almost simultaneously, a bomb hidden in a bicycle exploded by a Shiite shrine in Mazar-e-Sharif, the largest city in northern Afghanistan, near the border with Uzbekistan.  Four were killed and 21 others were injured in that attack, according to police.

Tuesday is Ashurra, a national holiday in many Muslim countries that marks the death of the prophet’s grandson Hussein -- an event that helped cement the separation of Shia and Sunni Islam.  Shiites mark the day by mourning, often beating or cutting themselves to reenact the pain that Hussein suffered.

There has been horrible violence on Ashurra in Iraq over the years -- as well as in Pakistan -- but never in Afghanistan, which is why Tuesday's attack is troubling.  The Afghan Taliban is an almost entirely Sunni group, but there has not been major sectarian violence in Afghanistan since the initial U.S. invasion in 2001.  The worry is that this will set off more sectarian attacks and instability in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Shiite Cleric Tells Militia to Stop Attacking US Forces

QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- One of the U.S. military's enemies in Iraq is striking a semi-conciliatory tone ahead of the planned American withdrawal from the country.

Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is telling members of his Iranian-backed Mahdi militia to end their attacks on U.S. soldiers that have suddenly increased in recent months.  His rationale seems to be more about wanting to give the Americans fewer excuses to stick around Iraq past the December deadline than actually trying to side with his longtime foe.

The U.S. is still scheduled to remove nearly all of its remaining 47,000 forces from Iraq by the deadline but is in talks with Baghdad to leave an undetermined number behind in January to train their security forces in the use of heavy weaponry.

Al-Sadr's militia fought against coalition troops through 2007 when he called for a ceasefire to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.  However, radical Shiites have stepped up their attacks lately, prompting the cleric to issue his missive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Blamed for Latest Spike of US Deaths in Iraq

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is blaming Iran for the rising number of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that Shiite militias are increasingly responsible for U.S. fatalities and that they're receiving training and equipment from Tehran.

Some of the weapons provided by Iran that are used by Shiite fighters include lethal armor-piercing versions of roadside bombs and rocket-boosted mortars.

While he wouldn't say whether Iran's clerical leaders are directing the attacks on U.S. forces, Mullen told reporters Thursday that they're at least aware of what's going on.

As for the U.S. response, Mullen didn't rule out a possible assault on Shiite militias if the attacks continues.

Since the U.S. combat mission officially ended in Iraq in late August 2010, 55 Americans service personnel have died and 244 were reported wounded.  June has been the deadliest month this year with 15 fatalities, nearly all at the hands of Shiite militias.

Two more U.S. soldiers died Thursday as the result of a roadside bomb just outside the main military base in Baghdad.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bahrain Violence Escalates After Military Crackdown

JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- The Sunni King of Bahrain ordered a military crackdown on Shi'ite protestors who recently retook the main square in the capital of Manama. The violent raid comes a day after the King declared a 3 month state of emergency that gave the military more authority to put down the month-long demonstrations.   

Soldiers and riot police launched an early morning assault on protestors camped out in Pearl Square. Witnesses say they covered the area in a blanket of tear gas and fired live ammunition on the crowd and into the air, driving everyone out.  Makeshift tents were reportedly lit on fire and at least six protestors were killed. The last one, medical officials say, died of gunshot wounds to his back. Two policeman also died and there are reports that at least 300 hundred have been wounded, the injured protestors streaming into the main hospital in Bahrain's capital.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three-Month State of Emergency Declared In Bahrain

JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN/AFP/Getty Images(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- A three-month state of emergency was declared by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah on Tuesday, authorizing the head of the military to "to take necessary steps to restore national security." It is the latest escalation in the tense and often violent month-long standoff between Shiite Muslim protesters and the security forces of the ruling Sunni family.

The declaration of martial law comes a day after a taskforce of around 1,500 troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council arrived in Bahrain to bolster the tiny island nation's forces. Most are from Saudi Arabia, crossing the short causeway that connects the two kingdoms.

The presence of foreign troops has infuriated the demonstrators who marched Tuesday from their symbolic home base of Pearl Square towards the Saudi embassy.

There are concerns that Bahrain's unrest could develop into a proxy war between Iran and its Sunni Arab neighbors. Iran has been accused of backing the protesters but so far no evidence has been offered.

What began as protests by the Shiite minority for more rights and a constitutional monarchy has developed into calls for the monarchy to be abolished. Bahrain is a key ally for the U.S., the home of the Navy's 5th Fleet. During a recent visit, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged the king to undertake real reforms, not "baby steps."

The U.S. State Department is urging Americans to avoid travel to Bahrain and suggesting those there to leave. The embassy in the capital Manama has authorized the departure of non-essential personnel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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