Deadly blasts and other violence rocked cities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria Sunday at the beginning of the Muslim commemoration of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice.
In Iraq, three roadside bombs killed at least eight people at a market in central Baghdad, the nation’s capital, according to police and news wire reports. The bombs, planted on Sunday in different parts of the Iraqi capital's Shorja market, killed afternoon vendors and afternoon shoppers buying goods for the Eid al-Adha feast.
Almost 30 people also were wounded.
Iraqi Shiites mark the beginning of the Eid on Monday, while Sunnis do so on Sunday.
"I can see fire and black smoke mounting and a large number of fire engines, ambulances and police patrols rushing to the market," a Reuters witness close to Shurja market said.
Iraqi forces are preparing to take full responsibility for security by year’s end, when all U.S. troops pull out of the country, nearly nine years after the U.S.-led invasion. Military leaders have expressed concerns that militants might ramp up attacks as the 33,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq pack up to leave.
In northern Afghanistan, suicide bombers targeted worshippers concluding prayers marking the key Muslim festival in northern Afghanistan, with one of them blowing himself up and killing seven people including two local police commanders, officials said Sunday.
The second would-be bomber was captured before he could set off his explosives, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for the regional police commander in the north.
The bombers targeted worshippers who were exiting a mosque in the outskirts of Baghlan province's Old Baghlan City and congratulating each other on the start of the Eid al-Adha.
At least 18 other people were hospitalized with injuries from the blast, which occurred in Hassin Tal, an area about 6 miles east of the city.
Among the seven people killed were two local police commanders, said Kamen Khan, the police chief in Old Baghlan City. One of them was a well-known local leader named Abdul who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Taliban, against whom NATO has waged a decade-long war, routinely target Afghan officials and security forces, as well as international forces.
Separately, NATO said that one of its service members was killed following an insurgent attack in the south on Saturday. The death raises to 494 the number of coalition troops killed in the country so far this year. NATO provided no other details.
And in Syria, government forces shot dead at least four civilians on Sunday in a continued military assault on the city of Homs and in an attack on pro-democracy demonstrations that erupted after prayers marking the main Muslim feast, an activist group said. Those deaths seemed to be connected more with the continuing unrest in Syria than the Muslim holiday, sources said.
Three people were killed in the central city of Homs, where a main district has been under tank bombardment since Tuesday. One protester was shot dead when security police fired on a demonstration demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad in the city of Hama to the north, the Syrian Revolution General Commission said.
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