Iraq attacks kill 37 ahead of Shia rituals | Pakistan Today

Iraq attacks kill 37 ahead of Shia rituals

A truck bomb blamed on al Qaeda killed 26 people at a crowded market in central Iraq on Tuesday while attacks elsewhere claimed 11 lives, the latest victims of a spike in nationwide unrest.
The violence, the bloodiest of which was in predominantly Shiite areas, came ahead of commemoration ceremonies on Friday for the birth of a key figure in Shiite Islam, and left nearly 100 people wounded in the worst unrest to hit Iraq in three weeks.
Tuesday’s violence was swiftly condemned by the UN special envoy to Iraq and the country’s parliament speaker.
The morning blast struck a popular market in Diwaniyah, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad, killing 26 people and wounding 50, according to Adnan Turki, head of the provincial health department.
“This attack has the fingerprints of Al-Qaeda,” provincial governor Salim Hussein Alwan told a news conference, adding authorities were investigating the explosion.
Shortly after the attack, Diwaniyah officials imposed a curfew across the city of some 440,000 people.
Women and children were among the victims of the attack that hit the main vegetable market, where 15 shops and stalls were destroyed, the officials added.
“The explosion led to a huge fire ball in the sky,” said Muslim Farhan, who was nearby at the time of the blast. “Everyone was running in different directions.”
The blast came just hours after near-simultaneous car bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims in Freyha, a village on the outskirts of the central shrine city of Karbala, killed four people.
“There were four killed and 13 wounded by two car bombs at around 7:00 am, (0400 GMT) east of Karbala,” provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed al-Hasnawi said.
Two separate gun and bomb attacks in the restive province of Diyala, north of Baghdad, killed four people — the sons of two anti-Qaeda militiamen and two farmers — security and medical officials said.
Also north of the capital in Taji, a policeman was among two people killed in simultaneous bomb attacks, an interior ministry official said. A hospital official said three people died in the blasts.

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