KARBALA, Iraq, Feb 13, 2009 – Six people were killed and 35 wounded in an explosion near a Shiite shrine in the central Iraqi holy city of Karbala on Thursday, medical sources said.
“Six people have been killed and 35 wounded,” an ambulance driver told AFP, although accounts of the explosion varied. It was not immediately clear if the cause was an attack or an accident, witnesses said.
A police officer told AFP a suicide bomber had triggered the blast, causing the casualties, but others at the scene said a gas pipe had exploded.
Millions of Shiite pilgrims are travelling from across Iraq to Karbala for Arbaeen, a ceremony next Monday that marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid’s armies in 680.
Among a string of incidents on Wednesday, Shiite pilgrims travelling on foot to Karbala, south of the capital, came under attack in two areas of Baghdad, leaving one devotee dead and 14 others wounded, security officials said.
And twin car bombings in southwest Baghdad ripped through a bus station killing 16 people, shattering a relative lull marked by largely peaceful provincial elections on January 31.