At least 32 people have been killed in two separate car bomb attacks on Shia Muslim pilgrims in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Thousands of pilgrims had travelled to the city to mark the final day of a festival commemorating the anniversary of the death of Moussa al-Kadhim, the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandson and the seventh imam according to Shia Islam, the BBC reported.
Explosives planted in an abandoned taxi on the main road leading to a shrine in the district of Kadhimiya – the site of the imam’s burial ground – were detonated around 12 noon local time (4am EST), killing 32, while a second blast – triggered as pilgrims were coming back from Kadhimiya – injured 36, according to officials.
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Sunni militant groups – including Al Qaeda’s local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq – have been carrying out attacks on Shia Muslims over recent weeks in a bid to undermine the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and trigger further sectarian fighting in the country, the Associated Press reported.
On Wednesday 72 people were killed in a wave of nearly two dozen coordinated attacks on Shia pilgrims across Iraq. Tensions are running high as Shi’ite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish political parties continue to dispute power-sharing arrangements in the country, with al-Maliki struggling to avert proposed votes of no confidence, Reuters reported.
Shi’ite pilgrimages to Iraq were banned during dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule, but have drawn huge numbers since he was ousted in 2003, according to the Agence France Presse.
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