Bombs kill up to 45 Shi'ite pilgrims in Iraq

 Two separate car bombs killed up to 45 pilgrims on Thursday near Iraq's holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala ahead of the culmination of a major Shi'ite Muslim religious rite, a provincial official said.

About 150 people were wounded in the two explosions, which occurred on the outskirts of the city, 80 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, on different roads, said Mohammed al-Moussawi, head of the Kerbala provincial council.

"Two cars parked outside the checkpoints to the city exploded at the same time," Moussawi said.

Police and Interior Ministry sources in Baghdad said they had heard suicide bombers wearing explosive vests were involved.

The blasts occurred amid a surge in suicide bombings by suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents in mainly Sunni areas north of the capital in recent days, seen as testing Iraqi security forces ahead of the full withdrawal this year of US forces.
 

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