Karbala: Attacks against Shiites, including a suicide bombing that ripped through a religious procession, killed 41 people in Iraq today despite massive security deployed for one of the holiest days of their faith.
The bloodshed came as a flood of worshippers, including tens of thousands of foreign pilgrims, thronged the central shrine city of Karbala for the climax of Ashura, braving the repeated attacks by Sunni militants that have marred the festival in previous years.
The suicide bomber, who was disguised in a police uniform, struck in a Shiite-majority area of confessionally mixed Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killing 32 people and wounding 80, security and medical officials said.
It was the third attack of the day to target Shiites.
Earlier, coordinated blasts in the town of Hafriyah, south of the capital, killed nine people, while twin bombings in the northern oil city of Kirkuk wounded five.
Shiites from Iraq and around the world mark Ashura, which this year climaxed today, by setting up procession tents where pilgrims gather and food is distributed to passers-by.
An estimated two million faithful gathered in Karbala, site of the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, whose death in the city at the hands of soldiers of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD lies at the heart of Islam`s sectarian divide.