21 pilgrims die in Iraq bombings

Three bomb attacks struck Shiite pilgrims in Iraq yesterday during a religious ritual for the Muslim sect, killing 21 people and wounding nearly 100 others.

Pilgrims marking Ashoura are often targeted by Sunni extremists who believe that Shiites are not true Muslims. After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime in 2003, Shiites regained the right to express their beliefs freely, and since then the annual commemorations have drawn huge crowds despite the threat of violence.

In the first attack, a bomb exploded in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of the capital, killing two. Hours later, a car bomb exploded in Mahaweel as Shiites were heading to the holy city of Karbala, killing eight people and wounding about 56 other pilgrims, said police officials in Babil province.

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Later, two attacks against Shiite pilgrims in the capital killed 11 people and wounded 32 others, police said.