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Bombs target Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad

BAGHDAD — Bombs hit Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and a central Iraqi city Thursday, killing at least 27 people and wounding scores more, in the latest attack in the lead-up to Ashoura, the sect's most solemn annual rite.

The blasts raised fears of more bloodshed as hundreds of thousands of Shiites head to the holy city of Karbala in central Iraq for ceremonies Sunday for the climax of the religious observance. Ashoura's 10 days of mourning are in remembrance of the killing of the prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein, in a 680 A.D. battle that sealed the split between Shiites and Sunnis.

Authorities said twin bombs killed at least 13 people and injured 74 others in the central Iraqi town of Hillah, the Babil provincial capital about 60 miles south of Baghdad. The explosions hit a bus terminal where many pilgrims had gathered.

Shoes lay in puddles of blood as stunned survivors sat in front of damaged storefronts.

"As people gathered here, a powerful blast took place," said witness Ali Hussein. "A bomb exploded there, and a car bomb exploded here."

Hours later, a bomb targeting a funeral in Baghdad killed nine and wounded 33 in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood, police and hospital officials said. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to media.

Also in Baghdad, another bomb killed five Shiite pilgrims and wounded 18 others on their way to Karbala, police said.

Bombs target Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad 12/24/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 24, 2009 6:36pm]
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