BAGHDAD - A series of bombs tore through crowds of Shi'ite pilgrims celebrating a major ritual across Iraq on Monday, killing at least 32 people, mostly women and children, and wounding scores more, local police and witnesses said.
The attacks, at the height of Ashura, which commemorates the death of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein and defines Shi'ite Islam, underscored Iraq's fragile security as the last U.S. troops withdraw from the country by the end of the year.
In the first attack, a car bomb blasted the end of one procession in the city of Hilla, killing 16 mainly women and children, wounding 45 others and leaving bloody pools, shoes and torn clothes scattered across the street, police and witnesses said.
"A powerful and horrible explosion went off behind us, smoke filled the area," said Hadi al-Mamouri, who was taking part in the ritual. "I could only hear the screams of women and I could only see the bodies of women and children on the street."