A grenade attack targeting Shia Muslim pilgrims took place near Baghdad’s al-Aimmah bridge early Tuesday, killing one and seriously injuring another ten.
“An unidentified person threw a grenade at a group of visitors who were on foot to the Al-Kadhimiya area in Baghdad to commemorate the death of Imam Musa Al-Kadhim,” a police captain told Anadolu News Agency.
On every 25th of Rajab of the Islamic calendar (March 9 this year), tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims commemorate the death of Imam al-Kadhim, the seventh imam according to the Shia community.
Just hours before the attack, Iraq’s intelligence agency said that it had arrested three members of a terror cell who were planning a suicide attack on Shia pilgrims visiting the tomb of Imam al-Kadhim at the nearby al-Kadhimiya mosque.
The explosion in the Iraqi capital took place fewer than 24 hours after the departure of Pope Francis, who left Baghdad for Italy aboard the papal plane on Monday morning following a historic three-day visit to the country.
On the second day of his visit, the pope met with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, in the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq.
Shiite Muslims travel to Iraq from around the world every year to visit its many Shiite shrines and holy places, including the tombs of Imam al-Kadhim and his grandson Mohammed al-Jawad, two of Shiite Islam’s most venerated figures.
Prime Minister Mustafa Kahdimi chaired a security meeting early Tuesday with Baghdad Operations Command to review measures in place to ensure the security of pilgrims.
In recent years, attacks on Shia Muslims in Iraq, mostly suicide bombings, have killed hundreds and wounded many more. The authorities have often blamed those attacks on terrorists from the Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim jihadist group.