Iraqi officials say the death toll from a suicide bomb attack on Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad has risen sharply, increasing the total number of people killed in Iraq on Saturday to 66.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for either of the bombings, but such attacks are the hallmark of Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, which views Shi\’ites as non-believers and has been regaining momentum this year.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a checkpoint, killing 48 Shi\’ite pilgrims on their way to visit a shrine in the Kadhimiya district, police and medical sources said.
The attack in Balad, 80 kilometers north of the capital, follows an almost identical bombing that killed at least 16 people at the same cafe six weeks ago.
Separately Saturday, security sources say unidentified gunmen killed two Iraqi journalists as they were filming in the northern city of Mosul. The journalists worked for the Iraqi television channel al-Sharqiya news.
No one has claimed responsibility for either attack.
Militants have stepped up attacks on cafes and other public gathering places, including mosques, funerals and busy market places, in recent months.
Deadly violence has climbed to its highest level since 2008, with analysts repeatedly voicing fears the country is sliding back into Sunni-Shi\’ite civil war.
More than 6,000 people have been killed in violence across the country this year, according to monitoring group Iraq Body Count, reversing a decline in sectarian bloodshed that had climaxed in 2006-07.