Sixty die in deadliest Iraq bombing since June

Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:58pm EDT
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By Aws Qusay and Waleed Ibrahim

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - In a second day of major bloodshed in Iraq, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad on Friday, killing 60 people, police said.

The attack was the deadliest single incident in Iraq since a truck bomb in Baghdad killed 63 people on June 17 last year. The two-day death toll of at least 150 raises concerns that a recent decline in violence may have been only a temporary lull.

At least 125 people were wounded in the blasts, which took place within minutes of one another at the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Kadhimiya, police said. Many of the dead and wounded were Iranian Shi'ite pilgrims.

Police said the attackers approached separate gates to the shrine, which contains the tombs of two important holy men, or imams, and has been a frequent target of Sunni Islamist extremists who consider Shi'ite Muslims to be heretics.

"They used sidestreets to get there and this enabled them to avoid checkpoints. They blew themselves up in the crowd," Major-General Jihad al-Jabiri, head of an Interior Ministry unit that investigates explosions, told Reuters Television.

He said the attackers placed two leather bags full of explosives among crowds flocking around the gates on Friday, the Muslim holy day. They were detonated by grenades whose pull rings were attached to strings and yanked from a short distance away.

Earlier reports that the suicide bombers were wearing explosive vests were not accurate, Jabiri said.

In a street leading to the shrine, workers afterwards swept up waves of glass from shattered shop windows.   Continued...

<p>Mourners grieve during the funeral of their relative who was killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad April 24, 2009. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen</p>