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Attacks on Shiite pilgrims, others kill 36 in Iraq

Dec. 19, 2013 - 12:09PM   |  
An Iraqi federal policeman stands guard as Shiite pilgrims march Thursday to Karbala for Arbaeen in Baghdad's southern district of Dora.
An Iraqi federal policeman stands guard as Shiite pilgrims march Thursday to Karbala for Arbaeen in Baghdad's southern district of Dora. (Khalid Mohammed / AP)
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BAGHDAD — Suicide bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims in and around the Iraqi capital and other violence across the country killed 36 people and wounded dozens others Thursday, officials said.

One suicide bomber set off his explosive belt near a group of pilgrims in Baghdad’s southern district of Dora, killing 14 people and wounding 28, police said. Another blew himself up among pilgrims in Youssifiyah, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Baghdad, killing eight and wounding 28 shortly after sunset, officials said.

At night, seven people were killed and 25 were wounded in a third suicide bomber attack on Shiite pilgrims in Latifiyah town, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad.

The pilgrims were heading to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, 90 kilometers (55 miles) to the south. Shiite pilgrims are commemorating Arbaeen, the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite figure.

Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims make their way every year to Karbala for Arbaeen. Al-Qaida and Sunni Muslim insurgents frequently target the Shiites, whom they consider to be infidels. Iraqi security forces also often poorly protect Shiite marches to holy cities.

Meanwhile Thursday, gunmen wearing military uniforms broke into the home of a former member of anti-al-Qaida Sunni militia in Baghdad’s western suburb of Abu Ghraib, killing him, his wife, his two children and his brother-in-law, a police officer said. The officer said the attack wounded two other children.

The Sunni militia, known as Sahwa, joined forces with U.S. forces during the height of Iraq’s sectarian conflict to fight al-Qaida. Ever since it has been a target for Sunni insurgents who consider its members traitors.

Also Thursday, police said a roadside bombing killed two soldiers and wounded four in the village of Mishahda, just north of Baghdad.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

———

Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.

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