At least 40 people were killed in bombings across Iraq yesterday ahead of a major Shia religious pilgrimages. Several of the bombings happened at marketplace and officials suspect security forces were bribed by al-Qaeda-linked Sunni extremists, the AP reports. In the deadliest bombing, a suicide bomber killed at least 30 people with explosives hidden in a produce truck, and officials suspect he bribed several checkpoint guards.
A recent surge in violence in Iraq has been blamed on the country's political crisis, and on the diversion of weapons intended to help rebels in Syria. Attacks on a Shia pilgrimage in Baghdad last month killed around 100 people and analysts fear that Sunni militant attacks on this week's pilgrimage could be even deadlier, provoking a Shia response and dragging the country back to the days of widespread sectarian killing. "These guys see Iraq as a gigantic bomb, and they are trying their hardest to set it off," a Brookings Institution Middle East analyst says.