Suicide bomber kills 27 Shia pilgrims in Iraq | Pakistan Today

Suicide bomber kills 27 Shia pilgrims in Iraq

SAMARRA – A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a bus filled with Shiite pilgrims at a checkpoint outside the Iraqi city of Samarra on Saturday, killing at least 27 people, police sources said. “The suicide bomber quickly ran into the bus when it stopped at a checkpoint several kilometres (miles) outside Samarra, and detonated his vest inside the vehicle,” the police official said.
“About 27 people were killed and about 20 were wounded,” he said, giving a toll confirmed by hospital sources. It was the deadliest single attack in Iraq since a January 27 car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony in a Shiite district of Baghdad, killing 48 people. Samarra, 110 kilometres (70 miles) north of Baghdad, houses the gold-domed shrine of revered ninth century imam Hassan al-Askari which draws pilgrims from Iraq and round the world. Saturday marked the annual commemoration of his death.
A car bomb ripped through a procession of pilgrims headed to the shrine on Thursday on the outskirts of the town of Dujail farther south, killing at least nine pilgrims and wounding 39, a provincial spokesman said. Tens of thousands of people died in violence sparked by the destruction of the Askari shrine’s gold dome five years ago by suspected Sunni extremists loyal to Al-Qaeda. The mosque itself was built in 944, and the golden dome was added in 1905.
Although violence has fallen in Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, attacks remain common. January was the deadliest month in Iraq since last September, according to official figures. A two-week surge in violence last month shattered a relative calm in the country. Data compiled by the ministries of health, defence and interior showed that a total of 259 people — 159 civilians, 55 policemen and 45 soldiers — were killed in violence last month.

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