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Police: Bombs kill 7 pilgrims in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) - A series of roadside bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims returning from the southern holy city of Karbala struck the Iraqi capital Friday, killing at least seven people, Iraqi police and medical officials said.
/ Source: KRIS-TV

BAGHDAD (AP) - A series of roadside bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims returning from the southern holy city of Karbala struck the Iraqi capital Friday, killing at least seven people, Iraqi police and medical officials said.

The attacks are the latest in a series that have targeted Shiites, raising concerns that insurgents are stepping up attacks against Shiite pilgrims, hoping to re-ignite sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007.

The first of three bombs exploded at about 9:10 a.m., targeting a minibus with pilgrims as it entered the Shiite slum of Sadr City, a police official said. The blast killed four pilgrims and wounded eight others, the official said. The causalities were confirmed by a medical official.

A short time later, two near simultaneous explosions near the Shaab football stadium in eastern Baghdad killed three pilgrims as they were walking home to Sadr City, said another police official.

Thirteen pilgrims also were wounded in the two blasts, which were placed less than half a mile apart, the official said.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information to the media.

The blasts came a day after a roadside bomb targeted pilgrims on their way to Karbala, killing one and wounding four others. Last Friday, a string of bombings targeted Shiite worshippers in the Baghdad area during Friday prayers, killing at least 29 people.

No group has claimed responsibility for the pilgrim attacks. Attacks on Shiite civilians - particularly during Shiite pilgrimages - have been the hallmark of Sunni extremists, including al-Qaida in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Shiites from throughout Iraq have been traveling by foot or by vehicle to Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, to celebrate the birth of Mohammed al-Mahdi, the 12th Shiite imam, who disappeared in the ninth century. Devout Shiites call him the Hidden Imam and believe he will return to restore peace and harmony.

The ceremonies reached their high point Thursday night and Friday morning.

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