Petraeus slams ‘barbaric’ Al Qaeda attacks in Iraq

Filed on February 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - US General David Petraeus on Saturday slammed the “barbaric actions” of a morally bankrupt Al-Qaeda following a series of attacks on Shia pilgrims in Iraq blamed on the extremist network.

The chief of the US Central Command, which oversees US military operations from the Gulf region to Central Asia, said the attacks “have once again demonstrated Al-Qaeda’s extremist hallmarks: the repeated employment of indiscriminate violence against fellow Muslims and the moral bankruptcy of an ideology that condones barbaric actions.”

“These attacks have shown yet again that, rather than pointing the way to a brighter future for the Islamic world, Al-Qaeda promotes the violent imposition of practices rejected by all but the most troubled members of global society,” Petraeus said in a statement from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

Iraqi officials said at least 41 people were killed and dozens wounded on Friday in a mortar attack on a crowd of pilgrims near the Iraqi Shiite shrine city of Karbala.

The bomb struck Shia pilgrims who were leaving Karbala, south of Baghdad, where more than a million devotees had gathered to mark the festival of Arbaeen.

It was the third major attack in a week on worshippers who have for weeks been traveling to Karbala on foot for the event which reached its climax earlier on Friday.

The Petraeus comments follow Friday’s condemnation by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who labeled as “reprehensible” the indiscriminate killings of men, women and children attending a religious pilgrimage.

“They will not succeed in breaking the will of the Iraqi people,” Clinton said.

“Iraqis are committed to realizing the promise of their democracy. There is no better rebuke to those who traffic in terror,” she said.

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