4 killed in suicide bomb attack on Shiite pilgrims in Iraq' s Diyala

20:37, December 13, 2010      

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At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide bomb attack on Shiite pilgrims in a town in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala on Monday, a provincial police source said.

The attack took place in the afternoon when a suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest outside a funeral tent set up to observe a Shiite mourning ritual in an area near the town of Balruz, east of Diyala's capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

An Iraqi policeman, named Bilal Mahmoud, who was guarding the tent, noticed the suicide bomber approaching the crowded tent and captured him with his bare hands, prompting the attacker to blew himself up outside the tent, the source said.

Four people, including Mahmoud, were killed by the blast and 20 others wounded, the source said, adding that the casualty could be much higher if the suicide bomber would have entered the tent.

Shiites in Iraq are marking the 10-day annual Ashura mourning rite, the holiest of the Shiite religious calendar, which marks the death in 680 AD of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Shiite mourners usually gather in processions in their towns and cities before they move on foot or buses to the holy shrines in Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad.

Iraqi and U.S. officials frequently blamed Qaida militant group and some insurgent groups for carrying out attacks against Shiite pilgrims who perform communal rituals, killing and wounding hundreds of them in attempts to provoke sectarian strife in the violence-shattered country.

Diyala province, which stretches from the eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border east of the country, has long been a stronghold for al-Qaida militants and other insurgent groups since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite repeated U.S. and Iraqi military operations against them.

Source: Xinhua
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