A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines Thursday, killing almost 50 people, officials said.
The blast near the Imam Hussein shrine in central Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, killed 49 people and injured 52, Karbala police Col. Razaq al-Taie.
Television images showed men ferrying the wounded in push carts, and pools of blood lying on the ground. The bomber appeared to have set off the explosion only about 30 meters (30 yards) from the shrine in a busy pedestrian area surrounded by shops.
The bomber detonated about eight kilograms (17.5 pounds) of explosives and several hand grenades, Al-Taie said.
Al-Khazraji blamed "takfiris and Saddamists" for the attack. The takfiri ideology is followed by extremist Sunni Muslims bent on killing anyone considered to be an infidel, even fellow Muslims who disagree with their doctrine. Al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a takfiri.
Thursday's attack follows a heavy day of violence Wednesday, in which at least 53 people were killed around Iraq, including 32 killed by a suicide bomber at a Shi'ite funeral east of Baqouba.
Karbala has been relatively free of violence since December 2004, when seven people were killed and 31 wounded in an attack. In March of that year coordinated attacks from suicide bombers and preset explosions on Karbala's holy sites killed more than 100.