Iraq bombs kill 32 pilgrims

BAGHDAD: A twin car bombing today targeted a crowd of Shiite pilgrims packing a

highway as they walked to a holy city south of

Baghdad for a major religious ceremony, killing at least 32 and wounding 154 people, Iraqi ministry officials said.

It was the third deadly bombing this week hitting the ceremony in which hundreds of thousands

of Shiites have been converging on the city of Karbala. Today’s attack struck during the culmination of the pilgrimage.

Today’s attack began shortly after noon when a parked car bomb exploded just east of one of three main entrances to Karbala, two health ministry officials said. The explosion sent throngs of pilgrims running down the highway and straight into the path of a suicide car bomber who detonated the vehicle, they said.

At least 154 people

were wounded in the

consecutive blasts, the

officials said.

However, an Iraqi police official reported it was two mortar rounds that struck the area, followed by a suicide car bomb. Such conflicting accounts are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.

The attack came at the height of the pilgrimage when roads around Karbala, 80 km south of Baghdad, were clogged with people trying to reach the city by today. The crowds made it difficult for ambulances to get to the wounded. The Arbaeen holy day, preceded by days of mass marches to Karbala, marks the end of 40 days of mourning after the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite figure.