Bombs kill at least 15 in Iraq
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims poured into Iraq's holy city of Kerbala on Saturday for an annual rite, defying bomb attacks across the country.
Many of the pilgrims have walked for days to mark the birth of Imam al-Mehdi. A bomb in a parked car struck pilgrims walking in Baghdad early on Saturday, killing six and wounding 10, police said, according to Reuters.
Late on Friday, a van packed with explosives was detonated at a bus station where pilgrims were assembling in Balad, a Shi'ite town in a mainly Sunni area north of Baghdad, killing nine people and wounding 40, according to police.
Authorities said they had managed to avoid bloodshed in Kerbala itself after last year's pilgrimage was marked by gun battles between Shi'ite factions and Iraqi security forces. "Thank God the situation is under control. We haven't observed any security violations. People are happy and cooperating with security forces," said Captain Abdullah Muhammad of the Iraqi army in Kerbala.
"This year we haven't seen the pilgrims holding pictures of clerics or shouting against the government like last year."
Iraqi security forces, backed by helicopters and hundreds of snipers on rooftops, say they will search pilgrims and use sniffer dogs to help find explosives.