20 perish in Iraq blast

20 perish in Iraq blast

Attack targets Shiite pilgrims

The blast was the latest in a string of attacks this week that have targeted pilgrims making their way to an important Shiite religious observance in Karbala, raising fears of a spike in attacks by suspected Sunni insurgents when the pilgrimage culminates on Friday.
The bomb exploded at about 11 am in an area known as Ibrahimia, near the east entrance — one of three — into Karbala, about 80 km south of Baghdad, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

At least 108 people were wounded in the attack, the official said, adding that the area was clogged with pilgrims and the number of casualties could increase. A hospital official in Karbala confirmed the number of dead and wounded. Hours earlier, two separate roadside bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims exploded in Baghdad, killing one and wounding seven others, a security official in the capital said.
The official said the first attack took place on Wednesday at about 6:15 am in western Baghdad, killing one person and wounding three. He said a second explosion in southwest Baghdad wounded four pilgrims.

For years, the main Shiite pilgrimages have been a prime target for attacks blamed on Sunni extremists seeking to widen sectarian rifts.
The current processions have brought hundreds of thousands of people streaming toward Karbala to end the 40-day mourning period marking the death of Hussein, a revered Shiite figure from the 7th century.

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