Thursday, December 24, 2009

20 Killed in Central Iraq Bomb Attacks

Voice of America -

Iraqi officials say at least 20 people were killed and 100 wounded in multiple attacks across Iraq Thursday, including Shi'ite pilgrims gathered for a religious ritual.

Officials say twin bombings near a bus station in the central town of Hillah killed 12 people and wounded more than 73 others. The second of those two blasts occurred as emergency workers arrived at the scene of the initial explosion. An Iraqi provincial council member was among the dead.

An explosion at an outdoor funeral in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite neighborhood of Sadr City killed at least five people and wounded 22 others.

And in southern Baghdad, a bomb killed three Shi'ite pilgrims and wounded another 10. They were on their way to the holy city of Karbala to mark the solemn Ashura holiday. The day will be observed Sunday, when Shi'ite pilgrims mourn the seventh-century killing of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Also Thursday, a bomb exploded at a restaurant near Karbala, wounding several people.

On Wednesday, a series of bomb attacks targeted Christians and Shi'ite Muslims preparing to observe coinciding holidays, killing eight people.

Iraq's government has said it is increasing security in areas with significant Christian populations after receiving reports of possible attacks against the minority group during the Christmas holiday.

More than 25,000 Iraqi police and soldiers have been deployed to protect Shi'ite pilgrims, who have been targeted by Sunni militants in the past.