Militants struck across Baghdad yesterday, killing 40 people, including 32 in a suicide bombing that targeted pilgrims commemorating a revered Shia saint.
The attacks offered a clear indication of the push by insurgents to exploit Iraq's political vacuum and destabilise the country as US troops head home.
Police said the suicide bombing also wounded more than 90 people who were about to cross a bridge leading to a shrine in the Shia Kazimiyah neighbourhood to mark the anniversary of the death of Moussa al-Kadhim, the Seventh Imam. The attack came despite a high alert among security forces. A vehicle ban had been in place across Kazimiyah, and 200,000 members of the security forces were deployed along the way to the shrine, searching pilgrims for weapons at checkpoints.
The attack took place near the bridge where 900 people died in 2005 in a stampede sparked by a rumour that a suicide bomber was among the more than a million people who had gathered at the shrine to mark the date of the Imam's death. A further two pilgrims died and seven were wounded in eastern Baghdad when a mortar shell hit their procession.
In western Baghdad, militants blew up the homes of Iraqi security officers, killing three family members. A police major was also killed when a bomb under his car exploded as he drove to work in Dora in the south of the city.