BAGHDAD — Bombs targeted Iraqi Christians and Shiite Muslims on Wednesday, killing at least nine people and wounding four dozen before coinciding religious observances that will take place under heavy guard.
Insurgents have routinely targeted Shiites and Christians to undermine the country's security gains and its Shiite-dominated government. Security forces in recent days have been concerned that the Shiite observance Ashoura and Christmas gatherings would be targeted by large-scale attacks.
Ashoura marks the seventh-century death of the prophet Mohammed's grandson Hussein.
In the first of Wednesday's attacks, a bomb targeted a historic church in the city of Mosul a day before Christmas Eve services. A police officer said the two men killed were Muslims and that five other people were injured.
"Instead of performing Christmas Mass in this church, we will be busy removing rubble and debris," said priest Hazim Ragheed.
Later Wednesday, three explosions targeted groups of Shiite worshipers in different parts of Baghdad. Seven people were killed, and 43 wounded.