Dozens killed in Iraq suicide blast

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The Independent Online

A suicide bomber detonated a belt of explosives near a highly-revered Shia shrine in Najaf, Iraq, today, killing at least 30 people and injuring 60.

The bomber blew himself up while being patted down by policemen near the Imam Ali mosque in the old part of the holy city of Najaf, said Dr. Munthir al-Ithari, the head of Najaf's health directorate.

Witnesses and officials had earlier reported two bomb explosions.

Al-Ithari said a second bomb did go off, but in a different part of the town. It was not clear if there were any casualties there.

He said 30 deaths and 60 injuries had been recorded so far, and the toll was likely to increase.

Among the dead were 22 men including five policemen.

The bombing occurred at about 10.30am local time in a market - packed with pilgrims and shoppers - in front of the Imam Ali mosque, which contains the tomb of Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law, Ali.

It is one of the world's most sacred shrines for Shiites, the minority sect of Islam.

Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, is a major pilgrim destination for Shiites around the world.

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