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Bombs kill 7 Shi’ite pilgrims in Iraq

A policeman injured in a bombing was treated at a hospital in Kirkuk, Iraq. Dozens of pilgrims have been killed during the Ashoura observance. A policeman injured in a bombing was treated at a hospital in Kirkuk, Iraq. Dozens of pilgrims have been killed during the Ashoura observance. (Emad Matti/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / December 28, 2009

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BAGHDAD - A bomb killed five Shi’ite pilgrims in a procession in northeast Iraq yesterday, and blasts in Baghdad killed two more pilgrims as millions of people marched to commemorate the most important Shi’ite religious observance.

Pilgrims traveling to the southern holy city of Karbala have come under repeated attack during the 10-day religious ceremonies that culminated yesterday with huge processions.

Dozens of pilgrims have been killed and more than 150 wounded during the Ashura observance by insurgents hoping to intensify sectarian violence that reached a peak in 2006 and 2007, though the pace of violence has dropped sharply since then.

Security was tight in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, where 25,000 additional security personnel deployed. Snipers watched marchers from rooftops, and bomb detection dogs were used in the search for explosives.

A roadside bomb in the town of Tuz Khormato, 110 miles northeast of Baghdad, struck worshipers yesterday morning, killing five and wounding 28, police and medical officials said.

A police official said the minister for youth and sports, Jassim Mohammed Jaafar, was among those in the targeted procession, but was unharmed. One of his bodyguards and a police captain were among the dead. In western Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeted a minibus carrying pilgrims, killing one and injuring six, another police official said.