Ashoura Massacre

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The Ashoura Massacre was a series of planned terrorist explosions, that killed 170 and injured 500 Iraqi Shiite Muslims commemorating the Ashoura festival. The bombings, all on March 2nd, 2004 brought one of the deadliest days in the Iraq occupation, after the Iraq War to topple Saddam Hussein.

Al Qaeda is the group believed to be responsible for the attack, and it is also believed that their intent was to cause much more destruction than actually occurred. Nine explosions were detonated in Karbala, accompanied by mortar, grenade, and rocket fire, killing over 100 people, while three explosions near the Kazimiya shrine in Baghdad killed 58 more.

Though the attack involved armed squads, car bombs, and up to a dozen suicide bombers, there was also an explosive-laden vehicle which was apprehended while attempting to enter Basra, as were two suicide bombers in Karbala and others in Baghdad who had entered via Syria. The armed squads included rocket crews and small arms fire which was meant to both kill those wounded by the blasts as well as trap those trying to flee the carnage.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the American commander in Baghdad, blamed Abu Musab Zarqawi for the attacks, but it has since been revealed that his field commander in Iraq, Abu Abdallah al Hassan Ben Mahmoud, directed the attacks. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a highly influential Shiite in Iraq, blamed the US for allowing the attacks to occur, and by doing so helped to prevent Shiite-Sunni violence against one another.

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