02/25/2008, 00.00
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Second attack in two days against Shia pilgrims

A bomb explodes killing four people; yesterday’s incident left 43 dead. The attacks target the millions of faithful who go to Karbala to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, a central figure in Shia Islam.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A second attack in two days struck Shia pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Karbala. Today’s car bomb killed four people and injured an additional 15, south of the capital. Yesterday 43 people were killed by a suicide bomber in Hiteen, a suburb of Iskandariya, who blew himself up inside a tent set up to provide food and water to marching pilgrims.

As in previous years this year the Ashura pilgrimage to Karbala, celebrated by millions of Shiites including many Iranians, is being marked by attacks. The event commemorates the end of a 40-day mourning period following the death of Imam Hussein, a central figure in Shia Islam, who was killed in 680 during the intra-Muslim struggle of the time.

These attacks have usually been attributed to al-Qaeda. Their goal is to stir inter-communal tensions between Shiites and Sunnis and fuel insecurity in the civilian population as a whole.

Special security measures were taken this year. All public transport, including bicycles, has been banned within a 25-kilometre radius of the city, and 600 female security officers have been assigned to search women.

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