The burials of the 22 victims of an attack on Shi’ite pilgrims in Iraq took place on Tuesday as the army spread out in the western desert looking for their killers.
The pilgrims were ambushed and shot dead south of the town of Rutba in al-Anbar province, an area formerly heavily infiltrated by al-Qaeda, and where the terrorists still have a presence.
“These crimes will not hinder the political process and will not affect the people’s unity. But it affirms there is a heinous sectarian attitude harboured against Shi’ites,” said Iraqi MP Fouad al-Doraki.
Some arrests have been made, but tracking the killers in the vast desert is difficult. The crime is similar to one in 2008, when false checkpoints were used to stop a minibus. The men were then killed, with only the women, children and elderly men spared. Al-Anbar is Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland.