Photo by Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images.
Bombings targeting Shiite Muslims in Iraq killed at least 57 people today. They're the latest in a series of sectarian attacks since American troops left the country in mid-December.
There were two separate attacks: one on two Shiite neighborhoods in Bagdahad, killing at least 27 people; and the other a suicide bombing of pilgrims on their way holy Shiite city of Karbala, killing at least 30. Although no one has yet claimed responsibility, according to the AP, the attacks appear to be the work of Sunni insurgents linked to al-Qaida.
This is the second set of deadly sectarian attacks in less than a month. As the New York Times notes, at least 63 people were killed on Dec. 22 in a series of bombings in the capital. That was the deadliest attack on the city in over a year. An al-Qaida associated group has said it's behind those attacks.
Shiite Muslims are the majority in Iraq, but Sunni Muslims were in power under Saddam Hussein. Sunni-Shia relations in the country, already tense, were exacerbated both by the withdrawal of American troops from the country and by the Shiite majority government's issuance of an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges, the BBC explains.
Currently, the main Sunni bloc in the Iraq parliament, the al-Iraqiyya group, is boycotting parliament and cabinet sessions in protest of what they see as a Shia attempt to monopolize power.