Car bomb kills seven in holy city of Karbala

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At least seven people were killed in a car bomb blast in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraqi officials said today.

Police and hospital officials said several Iranian pilgrims were among those who died in the attack, which also injured at least 30.

The car bomb exploded at 8.30am local time in a car park in the centre of Karbala, 50 miles (80km) south of the capital, Baghdad, police said.

It was not immediately clear how many of the dead were Iranian.

Alaa Abdul-Zahra, a doctor at Karbala's al-Hussein hospital, confirmed the death toll.

The blast comes as Iraq's political leaders are trying to overcome an eight-month political stalemate over who will run the country following inconclusive elections held March 7.

As the political bickering continues, many Iraqis have grown increasingly worried that militants are trying to exploit the gridlock to deepen the country's sectarian divides.

The car park where the bomb exploded today is used by Shiite pilgrims travelling between Iraq's holy sites. Such car parks have often been targeted by Sunni militants unable to get close to the holy shrines due to beefed up-security.