Gunmen attack Shiite pilgrims
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Gunmen took aim at multitudes of Shiite Muslim worshippers marching through this besieged capital Sunday, killing at least 20 and leaving hundreds injured in a vivid illustration of the sectarian violence driving Iraq toward open civil war.
Panicked pilgrims, including women in full-length black robes, scattered in terror as gunmen fired from positions on rooftops, inside buildings and on the streets. Security officers and Shiite militiamen returned fire during rolling gun battles along the routes to the worshippers’ destination, a major Shiite shrine.
“I was walking and someone got shot in front of me. It wasn’t random fire, it was a clear sniper attack,” said Mohammed Jassim, 32.
He said he could hear the faint crack of shots over the noise of the procession. “People panicked and started yelling, ‘It came from here, no from there.’”
Iraqi television showed images of pilgrims diving for cover behind parked cars and buildings as ambulances ferried off victims. Authorities reported that security forces killed several of the snipers.