Bomb kills at least eight pilgrims in Karbala.
A roadside bomb killed eight Iraqi pilgrims and wounded 46 near a revered shrine on Thursday as millions of Shiite pilgrims converged on the central Iraqi holy city for Arbain, one of the most important dates in the Shiite religious calendar, police said.
Police said the blast took place less than 1 km (half a mile) from the Imam Hussein shrine in central Karbala, 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, despite intense security.
"The explosion came as a result of a small, locally made bomb" in an alley leading to the Imam Hussein shrine, said General Uthman al-Ghanimi, an army commander in Karbala. Millions of Shiites are travelling to Karbala for Arbain, a ceremony next Monday that marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid's armies in 680.
The killings came one day after deadly bombings near a Baghdad bus station shattered a relative lull in violence since largely peaceful provincial elections in Iraq on Jan. 31.
The Karbala explosion followed a string of incidents on Wednesday, including one attack that targeted Shiite worshippers in two areas of Baghdad travelling on foot to the holy city.One pilgrim was killed and 14 others wounded, security officials said.
Insurgents have targeted the Shiite shrine city on a number of occasions in the past six years. A blast 11 months ago at the same Karbala shrine left 43 people dead.
On Wednesday, the United Nations mission in Iraq condemned the targeting of pilgrims and incitement of sectarian tensions just as Sunni-Shiite and insurgent violence in Iraq drops to its lowest level since the war.
On April 28 a year earlier, a suicide car bomb attack near the Imam Abbas shrine, a second revered shrine in the city, killed more than 70 people and wounded nearly 160.
Two weeks before that, a similar bomb attack close to the Imam Hussein shrine killed 42 people and wounded scores more.
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