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Militants kill eight Shiite pilgrims in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Dec 17, (AFP): Militants killed at least eight Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad province on Tuesday, Iraqi security officials said. A suicide bomber detonated explosives among pilgrims walking south of Baghdad, killing four, while militants in a car threw a hand grenade at pilgrims in the capital, killing at least four others. The two attacks also wounded at least 27 more people. The violence came after two car bombs targeted Shiite pilgrims south of the Iraqi capital on Monday night, killing at least 24 people and wounding over 50.

Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them on foot, make pilgrimages to the holy city of Karbala during the 40 days after the annual commemoration marking the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) grandson, Imam Hussein. The 40th day, known as Arbaeen, falls on Dec 23 this year. Sunni militants including those linked to al-Qaeda frequently target members of Iraq’s Shiite majority, whom they consider to be apostates. Violence in Iraq has reached a level this year not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings, raising fears the country is falling back into all-out conflict

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