Officials: Bombs kill 50 pilgrims in Iraq

As many as 175 believed wounded after Karbala explosion targets Shi'ites headed to holy city for rituals.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 20, 2011 15:59
Shiite pilgrims march to Karbala for Arbaeen

iraq pilgrimage 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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 Iraqi police and hospital officials say 50 people have been killed in bombings at security checkpoints targeting pilgrims headed to a Shi'ite holy city for rituals.

The death toll was continuing to rise after the Thursday afternoon bombings. As many as 175 people were believed to be wounded.

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Authorities said the bombs exploded near at least two police checkpoints outside Karbala, located 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

The Shi'ite pilgrims were on their way to Karbala for Arbaeen, a holiday that marks the end of the forty-day mourning period after the anniversary of the 7th century martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Al-Qaida and other Sunni-dominated extremist groups frequently target Shi'ite pilgrimages in hopes of sparking new sectarian violence.

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