A suicide bomber activated a belt of explosives on his body near a highly revered Shiite shrine in southern Iraq Thursday, killing at least 30 people and wounding 60, an official said.
The bomber blew himself up while being patted down by policemen near the Imam Ali mosque in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said Dr. Munthir al-Ithari, the head of Najaf's health directorate. According to the AP, witnesses and officials had earlier reported two bomb blasts. According to Al-Ithari, a second bomb went off, but in a different part of the town. A police official said the second bomb targeted a U.S. military convoy, but caused no injuries.
Al-Ithari said 30 deaths and 60 injuries were confirmed so far in the suicide bombing, and the toll is likely to go up. Among the dead are 22 men including five policemen.
The bombing occurred at about 10.30 a.m. in the Grand Market in front of the Imam Ali mosque, which contains the tomb of Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali. It is one of the world's most sacred shrines for Shiites, the minority sect of Islam.
Four Iranians were among the injured, al-Ithari said.
Also Thursday, fighting was reported in the Sunni area of Salam in northern Baghdad between locals and members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, witnesses said.