Need to know: Iraqi death tolls should get our attention

Ninety-two people died in several bombings and shootings yesterday

Karim Kadim/AP

The story
Some days, death tolls in Iraq appear to be educated guesses. Yesterday, 65 people died in a series of bombings and shootings across the country. Or was it 82? Or was it 92? The numbers float around the internet, decorated with sickening atrocities: car bombings at a police station, a funeral, an outdoor market and a bus station. Every day, people in Iraq are dying because they decided to be police officers, or mourn a loved one, or buy food at a local market.

The targets of choice yesterday were largely Shiite pilgrims, who hoped to reach the holy city of Karbala in advance of next week’s Arbaeen, a religious commemoration of Hussein bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Pilgrims are often caught in cross hairs, and religious holidays mean spikes in death tolls. All roads to Karbala will pose perilous threats. Today, 37 more pilgrims confronted the danger of their pilgrimage, caught up in attacks. Ten didn’t survive.

The stat
92: The projected death toll in Iraq on Dec. 16, according to Al Jazeera

The quote
“We believe the attack was aimed at freeing detainees who are being held in the building next door.” —Major Salih al-Qaisi, a police officer in Baiji, where bombers died before reaching apparent detainees at the town’s police station


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