Car bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims kill 26 in Iraq

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to gather in Karbala today.

Updated: Jan 24, 2011, 20:30 PM IST

Karbala (Iraq): Terrorists set off two car bombs in Iraq`s holy city of Karbala Monday, killing at least 26 mostly Shiite pilgrims and injuring nearly 200 others, security and medical officials said.

In the first attack, a car exploded in a parking lot, killing 12 and injuring 32.

A second car bomb exploded a few hours later, killing 14 and injuring at least 164.

The attacks targeted Shiite pilgrims making their way on foot to the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala, located about 100 km south of the capital Baghdad.

Scores of pilgrims are attending an annual ritual marking 40 days of mourning to commemorate the death of Prophet Mohammed`s grandson Hussein, who is believed to have died during the famous Battle of Karbala in the year 680.

Around 30,000 Iraqi security forces have been deployed in and around the holy Shiite city to try and bolster security for the ritual, which culminates Tuesday.

Iraq has witnessed a string of attacks in the past week that have killed nearly 130 people, many of them pilgrims making their way to Karbala.

In a separate attack Monday, four civilians were injured when a bomb placed inside a bus went off in western Baghdad.

Also Monday, an Army officer was killed in a separate bomb attack in the capital, while two members of the Sahwa militia were shot dead by gunmen in the northern city of Kirkuk, police sources said.

The Sahwa, also known as Sunni Awakening movement, is comprised of Sunni fighters who have joined US troops to combat al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq.

IANS