BAGHDAD - A car bomb that exploded outside a restaurant in a southern Iraqi town last evening killed a 5-year-old girl and her father, who were among a group of Shi’ite pilgrims from Baghdad, officials said.
Twenty other people were wounded in the 7 p.m. blast near a Shi’ite mosque in Iskandariyah, said Dr. Amal Ali, chairwoman of the Babil provincial council health committee that governs the area.
Ali said the pilgrims were from Baghdad and were walking through Iskandariyah on their way to Friday prayers in the holy Shi’ite city of Karbala.
Another provincial counselor, Mansour al-Mani, confirmed the deaths and said two police were among the wounded.
Ali said seven of the most severely wounded were rushed to the hospital in the town of Hillah, while 13 were treated at Iskandariyah’s hospital.
Shi’ite mosques have been a frequent target for Sunni insurgents looking to revive sectarian violence in Iraq as US forces prepare to leave.
Earlier yesterday, Osama al-Nujaifi, speaker of Iraq’s Parliament, rapped the government for failing to tell lawmakers how many US troops might need to stay in the country beyond the planned withdrawal at the end of the year.
At a news conference, Nujaifi said the government has not even briefed Parliament about the ability of Iraq’s forces to protect the country.
Nujaifi is the highest-ranking Sunni politician in Iraq. He is trying to broker agreement between Shi’ites and Kurds on a host of issues slowing the government, including the matter of US troops.
Iraq’s government is weighing whether to request that some US troops stay to help train its security forces.