Thirty-two people were killed in three attacks on Shi\’ite Muslim pilgrims walking in Baghdad on Thursday evening ahead of a major religious holiday, police and medical sources said.
The attackers defied a shutdown of major roadways for Shi\’ite religious faithful, who were heading to the Imam Kadhim shrine in Kadhimiya in western Baghdad to commemorate the death of the Shi\’ite saint in 799.
All the bombings happened in the space of 30 minutes. The deadliest was in eastern Baghdad, near Tayaran Square, where a minibus approached a crowd of pilgrims and exploded, killing 14 people and wounding 17 others, according to police and medical sources.
"The suicide bomber… came speeding out from a side street towards a group of pilgrims on foot," said Police Captain Ahmed Nasir. "Many bodies were ripped to pieces."
In Shaab, also in the east of the city, another parked vehicle blew up beside a group of pilgrims, killing 12 and wounding 30, the sources added.
Across Baghdad, in the western neighbourhood of Mansour, a parked car exploded, killing six people and wounding 38.
The attacks took place as many Shiite Iraqis took their yearly pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, one of the Twelve Imams revered by Shiite Muslims, in the Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad.
Iraq is witnessing some of its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.
Source: Reuters and agencies