x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Shiite pilgrims killed in bomb attack

At least 20 people have been killed and 117 wounded in a bomb attack targeting Shiite pilgrims travelling on foot to a shrine city in central Iraq.

A suicide attacker driving a minibus has killed 20 Shiite pilgrims, including women and children, travelling on foot to a shrine city in central Iraq, health and security officials said. The bomber struck a crowd of pilgrims on the outskirts of Karbala, 110 kilometres (68 miles) south of Baghdad, in an attack that also left 117 people wounded. The pilgrims had been travelling on foot from Hilla in Babil province to Karbala to observe Friday's Arbaeen rituals. A senior provincial health official who gave the toll said at least one woman and three children were among the dead. An interior ministry official, who confirmed the casualty toll, said the bomber detonated an explosives-laden bus. Arbaeen marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the slaying of one of Shiite Islam's most revered figures, Imam Hussein, by the armies of the Sunni caliph Yazid in 680 AD. Tens of thousands of Shiites, including many from neighbouring Iran, make their way annually at Arbaeen to pay homage at Imam Hussein's shrine in Karbala, considered one of the holiest places in Shiite Islam. In Baghdad on Monday a female suicide bomber blew herself up among a crowd of pilgrims who were making their way to Karbala for the ceremonies, killing at least 41 people. About 30,000 members of the Iraqi security forces have been deployed to the holy city for the festival which culminates on Friday. *AFP