BAGHDAD — Two car bombs struck Shiite pilgrims Monday in an Iraqi holy city, killing at least 26people as crowds massed for religious rituals marking the end of a 40-day mourning period for the Islamic sect's most beloved saint.
The blasts in Karbala were the latest in nearly a week of attacks that have killed at least 159 people. The uptick in violence has shattered a lengthy period of calm and raised anew concerns about the readiness of Iraqi forces to take over their own security ahead of a full withdrawal by the US military.
The first attack occurred about 7 a.m. in a parking lot near busloads of pilgrims on the eastern outskirts of Karbala, 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Baghdad. Police and hospital officials said that six pilgrims were killed and 34 people wounded in that attack.