Bomber Kills 51 Pilgrims in Iraq

Man speeds explosive-packed car into checkpoing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2011 12:17 PM CST
Iraqi police help a wounded comrade to safety in Karbala, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.    (Ahmed al-Husseini)
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(Newser) – A pair of car bombs blasted through security checkpoints ringing the Iraqi holy city of Karbala today and killed at least 51 people, most of whom were Shiite pilgrims headed to observe yearly religious rituals. Authorities estimated as many as 183 people were wounded in the near-simultaneous blasts set off by suicide bombers driving cars packed with explosives.

A pilgrim from Sadr City said he saw the car speeding toward one of the checkpoints, its driver ignoring frantic calls to stop. "He sped up and blew up his car near the checkpoint," he said. "People started running in all directions." It was the latest in a wave of attacks in recent days, as insurgents test Iraqi security forces ahead of the planned US withdrawal at the end of the year. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmarks of Sunni extremist groups like al-Qaeda, which often strike Shiite pilgrimages.

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