Three killed in bomb blast aimed at Iraqi pilgrims

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb blast targeting Iraqis on a pilgrimage to a Shi’ite festival killed three people and wounded 15 on Monday, police said, the day after a suicide bombing also aimed at pilgrims left 40 dead.

Police said the roadside bomb exploded on the outskirts of Baghdad as the pilgrims walked to the annual Arbain festival, one of Shi’ite Islam’s holiest events, in the southern city of Kerbala.

On Sunday, a bomber detonated a suicide vest packed with metal ball bearings in a refreshment tent full of pilgrims killing 40 people, including women and children, in the town of Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital.

The attack was one of the deadliest in Iraq this year and occurred despite heightened security.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police have been deployed to protect those heading to Arbain after suspected Sunni Arab insurgents killed 149 pilgrims on their way to Kerbala for the event last year, one of the worst spasms of violence since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The pilgrims are particularly vulnerable because many prefer to walk to Kerbala, 110 km (70 miles) south of Baghdad. They believe the effort will bring them greater spiritual reward.

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