Suicide bomber hits Dura as Iraq unrest kills 15

Iraqi Muslim pilgrims walk along the main highway that links the Iraqi capital Baghdad with the central shrine city of Karbala on December 19, 2013. Photo - AFP

A suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt among pilgrims in Iraq on Thursday, killing 10 people, while militants shot dead a family of five, security officials said.

The attack on the pilgrims in the Dura area of south Baghdad took place at a tent where they are served food and drinks on their way to the shrine city of Karbala, and also wounded at least 21 people, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of people make pilgrimages to Karbala, many of them on foot, during the 40 days after the annual commemoration marking the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, known as Imam Hussein.

The 40th day, known as Arbaeen, falls on December 23 this year.

Militants, including those linked to Al-Qaeda, frequently target members of Iraq's majority, whom they consider to be apostates.

The throngs of pilgrims on the roads make for an easy target, and they have been hit by a series of attacks in recent days.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber targeted pilgrims in Khales, north of Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 10.

The toll would likely have been higher were it not for the selfless actions of a policeman who embraced the bomber just before the attack, in an effort to shield others from the blast.

On Tuesday, two attacks against pilgrims in and near Baghdad killed at least eight people, and on Monday two car bombs targeting pilgrims south of the capital killed at least 24 people.


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