Suicide bombers attack Shiite pilgrims in Iraq

  • Updated: December 18, 2013 - 8:00 PM

Shiite pilgrims marching to Karbala for Arbaeen in Baghdad on Tuesday. Suicide bombers attacked and killed other pilgrims Wednesday.

Photo: Karim Kadim • Associated Press,

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Shiite Muslims making one of their most important pilgrimages in Iraq were targeted again Wednesday by gunmen and suicide bombers.

Gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Pakistani ­Shiites traveling from Samarra to Baghdad, killing three and wounding 11, officials said. In Diyala Province, a policeman guarding Shiite pilgrims noticed a person he suspected was a bomber trying to infiltrate the crowd. When the officer grabbed him, the attacker detonated his explosives, killing the officer and four others.

Many Shiites from Iraq and other countries are making their annual pilgrimage to the city of Karbala for Arbaeen, which marks the 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Mohammed.

The pilgrims typically travel by foot or vehicles over long distances to reach shrines in Karbala and other places, stopping along the road to eat or rest in tents set up for them. In previous years, the pilgrimage has also been marred by attacks, as Iraq struggles with sectarian divisions.

In other violence, two policemen were killed at a checkpoint in Anbar Province, where a suicide car bomber blew himself up. The killings Wednesday pushed the weekly toll even higher. About 70 people were killed Monday in a series of attacks., including one on Shiites who were pulled from a bus and shot.

December is on track to become one of the bloodiest months in Iraq in five years.

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