Muslims hit by violence

Muslims hit by violence

MINA, Saudi Arabia / DAMASCUS
Muslims hit by violence

Women, whose father who was killed in the recent clashes, react next to his grave in a cemetery in Sanaa, Yemen. REUTERS photo

The Muslim world marked the Kurban Bayram holiday yesterday amid attacks and high tension in several countries across the Islamic world.

Iraq and Afghanistan were shaken by deadly blasts, while Syrian government forces fired on protesters after prayers in Syria. In Yemen, meanwhile, dissident forces foiled a regime car-bomb plot in Sanaa.

Syrian forces killed 10 civilians as anti-regime demonstrations were staged across the country after prayers marking the main Muslim feast, an activist group said. It was the fourth straight day of deadly violence since Syria agreed to an Arab peace blueprint aimed at ending nearly eight months of bloodshed. Eight of the civilians were killed in Homs, the flashpoint central city where protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule were held in most districts despite the weeks-long military crackdown, Agence France-Presse reported.

In Afghanistan two suicide bombers targeted worshippers concluding prayers marking the bayram, with one of them blowing himself up and killing seven people, including two local police commanders, officials said yesterday. The second would-be bomber was captured before he could set off his explosives, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, spokesman for the northern regional police commander.

Three bombs ripped through a sprawling Baghdad market, police said, killing eight at the beginning of the Muslim religious festival and just hours after the prime minister warned of Iraq’s continued danger. Police said the blasts were planted in different parts of the Shorja market in downtown Baghdad, striking as shoppers were preparing for this week’s bayram feast. City health officials confirmed 19 people were injured.

Dissident Yemeni general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar said yesterday that his forces had foiled a regime plot detonate a car-bomb in Sanaa. In a statement, Ahmar said a car loaded with two gas cylinders and 100 kilograms of explosives had been discovered Nov. 5 near the headquarters of his First Armored Division in the capital.

More peacefully, tens of thousands of Muslim men knelt shoulder-to-shoulder in prayer on the freezing streets of Moscow yesterday.

Millions of Muslims also stoned pillars representing the devil in a symbolic rejection of temptation on the second day of their annual hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Crowds yesterday filed past the three pillars, which now resemble curved walls, in a four-level sprawling concrete structure built to expedite the flow of pilgrims, energetically casting pebbles at the largest one. Saudi authorities estimate 2.5 million pilgrims have joined the hajj this year, Associated Press reported. The hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars and is required of every able-bodied Muslim once in their lifetime.

U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement on Nov. 5 to coincide with the start of Hajj, CNN website reported. “Michelle and I extend our greetings for a happy [bayram] to Muslims worldwide and congratulate those performing the Hajj.” he said.

Additional AFP and AP reports from Kabul, Baghdad, Sanaa and Moscow were used in this story.