Attacks kill six in Iraq, wound 15 Afghan pilgrims

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Attacks across Iraq on Monday killed six people and wounded dozens of others, including 15 Afghan pilgrims visiting the country for religious commemorations, officials said.

The violence included bombings against Shiite worshippers walking to the shrine city of Karbala, 110 kilometers (70 miles) south of Baghdad, for Arbaeen rituals later this week.

In Baghdad, gunmen burst into the home of Fatma Tayyiq, a branch manager for the Commercial Bank of Iraq, and shot her and husband dead in the capital's central Karrada district, an interior ministry official said.

It was not immediately clear why Tayyiq was targeted.

Just south of Baghdad in the town of Owairij, a roadside bomb targeting devotees walking to Karbala killed one pilgrim and wounded at least nine others, defence and interior ministry officials said.

In the northern ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk, meanwhile, a gunman opened fire on a group of security officers from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, known as the asayesh, killing two officers and wounding two others, a police officer in the city said.

The gunman was killed in return fire, he added.

Mohammed Abdullah, a doctor at Kirkuk hospital, said it had received the bodies of the two asayesh officers killed, and one other unidentified dead body, which he said was probably that of the gunman.

In the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded three others, army Lieutenant Colonel Yassin Mohammed said.

And on the outskirts of the central city of Hilla, a car bomb wounded 15 Afghan pilgrims, three of them seriously, police and medics said.

The festival of Arbaeen later this month marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the killing of Imam Hussein, one of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures, by the armies of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD.

As part of the ceremonies, Shiite pilgrims walk to Karbala from across Iraq. Devotees also descend on the city from around the world.

Attacks on Shiites in the capital and southern Iraq on Thursday killed 70 people and wounded more than 100, the highest death toll since August, as a row between the Shiite-led government and the main Sunni-backed bloc stoked sectarian tensions.