Coordinated bomb blasts in Iraq’s holy city of Karbala and Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, killed at least 65 Shi’ite pilgrims and worshipers and wounded another 250 on Friday. 40 were killed in Iraq by a car bomb that was orchestrated with a suicide bomber, while 25 died in Pakistan.
[Click here to go to the slideshow that shows aftermath of blasts]
Pilgrims were marching to the burial place of Shi’ite Islam’s most revered martyr, Imam Hussein- the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, when a car bomb ripped through the procession, which sent many fleeing into the path of a suicide bomber.
Iraqi authorities say that over 10 million Shi’ite pilgrims, including visitors from Iran, Kuwait, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, participated in the pilgrimage to mourn the 40th day after the slaying of Hussein.
Saad al-Muttalabi, an adviser to the Iraqi Council of Ministers, blamed Friday’s attacks on “the forces of darkness” of al-Qaeda and former Baathists in an interview with Aljazeera: “These forces are bent on trying to destroy democracy, the achievements of the people of Iraq and the aspirations for peace and rebuilding the country.”
This attack comes on the heels of two other suicide attacks against Shi’ites earlier this week in Iraq, when 24 pilgrims were killed on Wednesday, and on a female suicide-bomber killed 41 and wounding dozens.
Meanwhile, at least 25 people were killed and over 100 others injured when two blasts hit a bus carrying people to a Chehlum procession and a hospital where the wounded were being treated.
The bus carrying mourners was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) fitted on a motorcycle at Sharea Quaideen Bridge. Two hours later, an explosion took place outside the emergency ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, which was crowded by relatives of people injured in the bus blast, paramedics and media personnel.
Karachi police Chief Waseem Ahmed told Dawn that both the blasts had similarities. He said a computer monitor containing over 20kgs of explosives had been found in the casualty ward and was defused. Investigators said a motorcycle was used also in the blast at the hospital and apparently a small television was used as an IED.
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