Seventeen people have been killed in bomb attacks across Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, including Iranian pilgrims near a revered shrine and shoppers at a Shiite neighbourhood market, authorities said.
The attacks – several roadside bombs and cars packed with explosives – wounded more than 100 people. Most of the casualties were believed to be Shiite Muslims, a frequent target of Sunni insurgents who have long sought to provoke civil war in Iraq.
Police said the deadliest strike targeted a marketplace in Baiyaa, a Shiite neighbourhood in south-western Baghdad. A car parked outside a shopping area exploded around midday, killing six people and injuring 42. Hospital officials confirmed the casualties.
An hour earlier, near-simultaneous blasts hit two groups of Iranian pilgrims near the gold-domed Moussa al-Kadhim mosque in the Shiite neighbourhood of Kazimiyah, according to security forces.
A pair of bombs killed five pilgrims resting near the shrine, and a car exploded next to a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims in the nearby Shiite area of Shula, killing another three people.
Police and medical officials said those two attacks wounded 52 people.
Attacks by Sunni extremists on Shiite pilgrims and Iraqi Shiites helped fuel a surge of violence between the two main Islamic sects during the height of Iraq’s bloodshed between 2005 and 2007, as the insurgency against US forces gave way to sectarian fighting.
Shiite pilgrims come from all over the world to visit shrines and mosques in Iraq which are revered by Shiites, but the vast majority of the religious tourists are Iranians.
Earlier, police said a roadside bomb targeting a judge’s security convoy in downtown Baghdad killed three people, including two guards, and wounded seven passers-by. The judge was not in the convoy as it drove through Karradah, an area of mixed-ethnicity.