Baghdad: Coordinated car bombs in four Iraqi cities targeting Shi’ite pilgrims killed at least 72 people and wounded dozens more early Wednesday in Iraq's latest wave of sectarian-fuelled violence, officials said.
The death toll was expected to rise in the attacks, which included car bombs that tore into Shi’ite religious processions at four different locations across Baghdad.
It was the third attack in the capital this week targeting the annual pilgrimage commemorating the 8th century death of a revered imam.
Two police officers said the first bomb struck pilgrims in a procession at around 5 am in the northern Baghdad neighbourhood of Taji, killing seven and wounding 22 people.
Within hours, three more explosions hit other processions in different parts of the Iraqi capital, killing at least 25 more people and wounding more than 70, police officers said. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
In the city of Hillah, 95 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, two car bombs exploded minutes apart at dawn in the centre of town, killing 21 people and wounding 53, according to two police officers and one health worker.
Nearby, in the southern city of Karbala, a parked car exploded at about 8 am near another group of Shi’ite pilgrims, killing two people and injuring 22 others, a police official and health official said. Karbala is 55 miles (90 kilometres) south of Baghdad.
And north of Baghdad, in the Shi’ite town of Balad, two simultaneously car bombs killed seven pilgrims and injured 34 others, a police official and health official said. Balad is 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of the capital, near the city of Tikrit.
(With PTI inputs)
First Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 11:31