17 Dead in attack on Iranian pilgrims in Iraq

Baghdad, Jun 7 (EFE).- Seventeen people were killed and 45 others injured Friday in a car-bomb attack directed at a group of Iranian religious pilgrims in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, police told Efe.

The explosives-packed vehicle exploded near a bus full of Shi'ite Muslims on their way to a shrine.

The blast occurred as the bus, which was part of a convoy, sat at a police checkpoint in Al Maqdadiya, 45 kilometers (28 miles) northeast of Baquba, the provincial capital.

At least 10 of the dead were from Iran, while 13 other Iranians wounded in the explosion are in critical condition, police said.

Members of the Iraqi security forces are also among the fatalities.

Six people died in a May 25 bomb attack north of Baghdad targeting a busload of Iranian pilgrims.

Iraq is home to some of the holiest shrines of Shi'ite Islam and the government in Tehran insists that the Iraqi government bears responsibility for ensuring the safety of religious pilgrims.

Sectarian violence has been on the rise in recent months, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths in May alone, according to U.N. figures.