Suicide attack kills at least 6 civilians south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber blew himself up in the sacred Shiite city of Karbala on Monday, killing at least six civilians in what appeared to be the latest attempt by the Islamic State group to undermine the government.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen Saad Maan said that a total of six bombers attempted to enter the city of Karbala from its western edges in the attack, but that security forces killed five of them.

The sixth broke into a house in the city's Ayn al-Tamer area where he detonated his vest, killing six people and wounding another six.

Hundreds of thousands of faithful Shiites have been walking to Karbala to commemorate the seventh century death of Imam Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson and an iconic Shiite martyr. The city, where Imam Hussein and his brother are buried, is located some 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of Baghdad.

No one claimed responsibility immediately, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which considers Shiites heretics and has frequently targeted Shiite civilians and places of worship.

Backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and paramilitary militias, Iraqi government troops launched a massive multi-front campaign last month to retake the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the biggest urban area under IS control.

Monday's events in Karbala came a day after a wave of attacks in and around Baghdad that killed at least 23 people and wounded 70 others — many of them attacking Shiite pilgrims walking toward Karbala.