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Iraq: Attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims kill more than 70

At least 70 people were killed Wednesday as Shiites gathered to mark a religious festival.

Iraq bombings shiites targetedEnlarge
An Iraqi girl walks past the site of a roadside bomb in Baghdad's Karrada district on June 13, 2012 as a wave of bombings and shootings rocked Iraq during a major Shiite religious commemoration, killing scores of people and wounding dozens more. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

In Iraq, a series of attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims has killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 260, The New York Times reported.

Four bombings at different locations in the capital Baghdad, along with a spate of shootings, left as many as 30 people dead, as they marked the death of imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

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In the central city of Hilla, 22 people died when two car bombs were detonated outside restaurants near a local police academy, while in the Shiite city of Balad, north of Baghdad, a further two car bombings killed four people, reported Al Jazeera.

The nationwide death toll includes four people who were killed in Baquba, north of Baghdad, in nine roadside bomb attacks, Agence France Presse reported, citing a police colonel.

On the outskirts of Baquba, gunmen reportedly attacked a family in their home, killing a father and wounding his wife and three children.

Security and medical officials said the attacks across Iraq — the deadliest since 50 people were killed in Baghdad in March — left more than 260 people wounded.

Shiites have been arriving in Baghdad this week to celebrate a religious festival that culminates on Saturday, raising fears of further violence, The New York Times reported.

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For years, Iraq's Sunni insurgency has been targeting Shiites as they gather to mark religious events.

The Islamic State of Iraq umbrella organization has claimed responsibility for a bombing of a Shiite religious office in Baghdad, which killed 26 people, Reuters reported.

The attacks come amid heightened political tensions in Iraq, as the Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, fends off Sunni and Kurdish attempts to organize a vote of no confidence against him. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iraq/120613/iraq-attacks-target-shiite-pilgrims