A second car bomb targeting Shiite pilgrims in the Iraqi holy city of Karbala has killed at least 10 people and wounded 21.
Iraqi officials said an earlier blast in the city, 55 miles south of Baghdad, killed six pilgrims and wounded 34.
The blasts come as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are gathering in Karbala for ceremonies marking the end of Arbaeen, a 40-day mourning period to observe the seventh century death of the Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
The attack followed a triple suicide bombing last week along two highways leading to Karbala that killed 56 and wounded at least 180 – most of them Shiite pilgrims.
No group so far has claimed responsibility for last Thursday’s bombing, but suicide attacks are the trademark of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaida front group believed made up mostly of Sunni religious extremists.
Such groups have frequently targeted Shiite civilians, in part because of religious differences and because Shiite parties gained power after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime.
Since the end of Saddam’s rule, Shiite politicians have encouraged huge turnouts at religious rituals, which were banned under the former regime, as a demonstration of Shiite power.
Meanwhile, police said two bombs in Baghdad killed an Iraqi army intelligence officer and his driver and wounded eight bystanders in separate strikes that hit a Shia and a Sunni neighbourhood.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near Tikrit as Salahuddin provincial governor Ahmed Abdullah al-Jubouri’s motorcade was driving by, wounding five of his bodyguards, said police spokesman Hatam Akram. The governor was not injured in the blast near Saddam Hussein’s home town, 80 miles north of Baghdad.