Female suicide bomber blows herself up among Iraq pilgrims
At least 41 people were killed and 106 wounded, including women and children, Monday when a female suicide bomber blew herself up among Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.
Iraq is trying to leave years of bombings, killings and sectarian slaughter behind as it moves to cement security gains made in the last two years and revamp an oil sector that gives Iraq nearly all of its revenues.
The bombing took place as thousands of Shiite Muslims flooded the streets for the start of an arduous trek to the southern city of Kerbala, 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad, for the religious site of Arbain.
An Interior Ministry source and a police official said 41 people died and 106 were wounded in what they said was an attack on a tent where pilgrims are given food and drink.
The office of Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi said the attack occurred in a crowd and that 19 people were killed, with 80 wounded.
The attack took place as the nation geared up for a March election when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government was expected to run on improved security and trumpet a series of oil deals that may vault Iraq into the world’s top three crude exporters. It now the number 11 producer.
More attacks are likely during the Arbain religious period and before the election as suspected Islamist groups try to undermine Maliki’s Shiite-led government.
Millions of Shiites from Iraq, Iran, Bahrain and other nations have defied the threat of suicide bombings since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled the Sunni-led government of Saddam Hussein to visit Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Arbain marks 40 days of mourning for Hussein, the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson.