Tent where visitors are served food and drinks on their way to Karbala targeted
BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber detonated himself among pilgrims visiting holy shrines of Imam Hussain in Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 17 people, while rebels shot dead a family of five, officials said.
The attack on the Shia pilgrims in the Doura area of south Baghdad took place at a tent where they are served food and drinks on their way to the shrine city of Karbala, and also wounded at least 35 people, security and medical officials said.
Millions of people visit Karbala, many of them on foot, during the 40 days after the annual commemoration marking the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammads (PBUH) grandson.
The 40th day, known as Arbaeen, falls on December 23 this year.
The throngs of visitors on the roads make for an easy target, and they have been hit by a series of attacks in recent days.
On Wednesday, a suicide bomber targeted pilgrims in Khales, north of Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 10.
The toll would likely have been higher were it not for the selfless actions of a policeman who embraced the bomber just before the attack, in an effort to shield others from the blast.
On Tuesday, two attacks against visitors in and near Baghdad killed at least eight people, and on Monday two car bombs targeting Shias south of the capital killed at least 24 people.
Also on Thursday, militants dressed in army uniforms attacked the house of an anti-Al Qaida militiaman in the Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad, killing him, his wife and their three children.
The Sahwa militia are made up of Sunni Arab tribesmen who joined forces of Shia led government, helping it to bring about a significant reduction in violence.
Violence in Iraq has surged this year to levels not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.
More people were killed in the first eight days of this month than in all of December last year.
And more than 6,550 people have been killed mostly Shia Muslims since the beginning of 2013, according to AFP figures.
The civil war in neighbouring Syria, which has bolstered extremist groups, has also played a role. Agencies
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