Female Suicide Bomber Strikes Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq, 54 Dead, 109 Injured

Nearly 54 people were killed and 109 others wounded when a female suicide bomber exploded a vest rigged with explosives among a mob of Shiite Muslim pilgrims on Monday in northeast Baghdad, reported Log Angeles Times.

This is the latest in a string of attacks that have unnerved the city as pivotal elections loom next month.

Police said that bomber covered the explosives under her voluminous black abaya, or cloak, and blasted them among pilgrims congregated at a hospitality tent in the neighbourhood of Bab al Shams, said report.

Among dead were five women deployed to search female pilgrims for bombs, said police.

Report quoted cabbie Ahmad Najem, 30, who witnessed the attack, as saying that a huge fireball erupted from the tent, followed by the wails of the injured.

“I saw the bodies of women and children, and bags and slippers strewn all around in pools of blood,” Najem was quoted as saying.

The pilgrims were among hundreds of thousands walking to the shrine city of Karbala to mark Arbaeen, the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a 7th century figure revered by Shiites. Traditionally, residents set up hospitality tents to serve refreshments to the pilgrims.

Such public displays of Shiite religiosity were banned during Saddam Hussein’s rule. Since his fall from power in 2003, millions have been making the journey on foot to the Karbala shrine.

Just as regularly, insurgents have attacked them along the way, and Monday’s bombing echoed one a year earlier in which a suicide attacker killed 40 pilgrims, also at a hospitality tent.

But a recent pilgrimage had gone off almost without incident, drawing boasts from the government that the security forces were in full control.

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