17 killed in Karbala bombings

17 people were killed in Karbala on Sunday, after four successive blasts hit the city. Dozens more were wounded outside a local government building in an attack blamed on al Qaeda.

According to Reuters, the first bomb went off in front of an office where ID cards and passports were being issued. The next three went off as emergency serviced arrived to help those injured, according to police.

The bombs were in cars and were explosives attached to a motorbike. They tore off the fronts of several homes, and left bodies outside the rubble and metal scattered outside on the street.

A local resident, Mohammed Na'eim, said that he was indoors when he heard the explosion. "When I got outside, I saw many people wounded and some bodies on the ground." he said to Reuters.

According to police officials in Karbala, 17 people were killed. 45 wounded were in Karbala's main hospital, and another 25 in the nearby city of Hilla, according to the Washinton Post.

In Iraq, violence has decreaedsince 2006, when sectarian strife was at its peak. However, according to Reuters, as U.S. troops are preparing to withdraw from the country, al Qaeda and Shiite militants are still carrying out attacks.

Karbala, an especially holy city, has witnessed much sectarian violence. In January, 25 people were killed and almost 70 were injured by two car bobms that were targeting Shiite pilgrims to the holy city.

The aim of the bombers was to ignite sectarian tension, said government official Hussein Shadhan al Aboudi, to BBC News. An attack earlier this month killed 22 pilgrims on their way to Syria.