At least 41 people were killed and another 106 injured when a woman blew herself up in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad today. The woman hid the explosives underneath her abaya, a long traditional black garment. Witnesses describe seeing a fireball, and then seeing pilgrims “on the ground, covered in blood and crying for help.” Some did indeed help, driving the injured to hospitals in cars, rather than waiting for ambulances.
The pilgrims were en route to Karbala for Arbaeen, the Shiite holiday marking the end of 40 days of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. The annual pilgrimage has been a ripe target for attacks throughout the war; a similar attack killed 32 last year. The attack comes amidst heightened Sunni/Shiite tension surrounding the upcoming election, in which many candidates, particularly Sunnis, have been disqualified for alleged connections to Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.