A car bomb in a restive town north of Iraq’s capital killed 10 Iranian Muslim pilgrims Friday, officials said, the latest in a spike in violence that has sparked fears of all-out war.
Another 30 pilgrims were wounded in the attack, which struck their bus as it was passing through the town of Muqdadiyah en route from the Iranian border to the holy city of Najaf.
Najaf, which lies south of Baghdad, is home to a shrine to a revered figure in Shia Islam.
Shias visiting holy shrines and religious sites form the backbone of Iraq’s tourism industry, with the vast majority of pilgrims coming from Iran.
Sunni militants, including those linked to al-Qaeda, often target pilgrims for attacks. No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing, however.
Attacks in Iraq have risen sharply, with May the country’s deadliest month since 2008, as persistent political disputes have given fuel and room for militants to increase their activities.
There has been a heightened level of violence since the beginning of the year. The UN envoy to Iraq has warned that the violence is “ready to explode.”
Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq since April, the highest toll in five years.
(AFP, Al-Akhbar, Reuters)