Car bomber kills seven Iraqis south of Baghdad


A suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle near a crowd of Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims south of Baghdad today, killing at least seven people and wounding nine, police in Kerbala said.

They said the attack occurred on the road leading from Hilla, 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, west to Kerbala, a religious Shi'ite city where this week pilgrims will mark Arbain, the end of an annual mourning ceremony.

Shi'ites have frequently been targeted by members of the Sunni-led insurgency, particularly during religious festivals.

Iraqi police have bolstered security in and around Kerbala over the past week, fearing attacks in the build-up to Arbain, which climaxes on Thursday. The ceremony commemorates the end of the mourning period for a 7th century martyr, Imam Hussein.

Traditionally Shi'ites walk from their hometowns to Kerbala for Arbain and it is those pilgrims, walking along main roads through a hotbed of the insurgency south of Baghdad dubbed the "triangle of death", who have been targeted.