Baghdad: Seven Iranian pilgrims were
wounded on Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded near a bus
carrying them to the holy Shiite shrine city of Karbala,
security officials said.
The attack came a day after Muslims celebrated the
beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic
calendar, and as Shiites from around the world descend on
Karbala for the commemoration of Ashura, which marks the
slaying of the revered Imam Hussein by the armies of the Sunni
caliph Yazid in 680.
The attack, which struck the bus in southwest Baghdad
while it was en route to Karbala, left seven pilgrims wounded,
officials from the interior and defence ministries said,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
It followed two separate attacks in the capital on
Saturday that also targeted Iranian pilgrims visiting Shiite
holy sites in Iraq, and that killed six religious tourists.
Every day, thousands of pilgrims, many of them from
Iran and other countries with large Shiite Muslim populations,
visit Karbala and Iraq`s other major Shiite shrines in
Samarra, Najaf and Baghdad.
That number increases dramatically during the first 10
days of Muharram, known as Ashura, as millions of pilgrims
travel to Karbala, the home of shrines to Imam Hussein and his
half-brother Imam Abbas, culminating on the 10th day of the
month on the lunar calendar, which this year falls on December
Shiites make up around 15 per cent of Muslims
worldwide. They represent the majority populations in Iraq,
Iran and Bahrain and form significant communities in
Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.