Bombs Target Karbala Pilgrims, Scores Killed

BAGHDAD:  Back-to-back explosions tore through tents housing Shia pilgrims in the holy city of Karbala and in nearby southern Iraqi city Thursday resulting in the death of at least 43 people, reports  said.

Reports say the victims of the bombings included women and children.

The attacks in Hillah began with a roadside bombing near tents set up for pilgrims visiting the shrines of  the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein and his companions. That was quickly followed by a car bomb targeting emergency response teams.

The explosions, which occurred in a busy commercial area, killed at least 29 people and wounded as many as 90, a police officer said, making it the deadliest attack in the city this year.

Twisted and charred vehicles were left outside damaged stores as shopkeepers collected their strewn merchandise from the bloodstained pavement. Hillah is 95 kilometers (60 miles) south ofBaghdad.

Just hours earlier, a parked car exploded near the shrine of Abol Fazl Abbas, brother of Imam Hussein in the city of Karbala, killing six people and wounding 20, another police officer said.

Karbala, 90 kilometers south of Baghdad, is one of the holiest cities in Islam and the place where Imam Hussein and many of his martyred  kin are buried. Estimated five million Shia Muslims undertook pilgrimage to the shrines on Ashoura this year.

Ceremonies, like Ashoura have often been targeted by extremist insurgents seeking to foment sectarian violence and undermine the Shia-led government.

The recent attacks marked the second round of bombings against Shia Muslims this week after three car bombs near places of worship in the capital, Baghdad, killed 23 people and injured dozens of others on November 27. Agencies

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