Iraq violence spike claims more victims

2012-07-03 13:00

Diwaniya - A truck bomb in a crowded market in the central Iraqi city of Diwaniya killed at least 37 people on Tuesday, the latest victims of a spike in nationwide violence, medical and security officials said.

"At least 37 people were killed and around 70 wounded when a bomb blew up in a truck parked in the central market" at around 10:15, a police colonel said on condition of anonymity.

A hospital source in the city, 160km south of Baghdad, confirmed receiving 37 dead.

Shortly afterwards authorities imposed a curfew across the city of around 440 000 people.

The blast came just hours after near-simultaneous car bombs targeting Shi'ite pilgrims on the outskirts of the central shrine city of Karbala killed four people.

The attack struck the village of Freyha, 10km east of Karbala, ahead of commemoration ceremonies on Friday for the birth of a key figure in Shi'ite Islam.

Site of a shrine

"There were four killed and 13 wounded by two car bombs at around 07:00, east of Karbala," provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed al-Hasnawi said.

A medical official in Karbala, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the toll at four dead and 33 wounded.

Karbala is frequented by Shi'ite pilgrims as it is the site of shrines to Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas, both central figures to Shi'ite Islam.

Friday's ceremonies are to mark the birth of another figure, known as the 12th imam.

The violence comes amid a spike in attacks in Iraq, with the country suffering a wave of unrest in June that left at least 282 people dead according to an AFP tally, although government figures said 131 Iraqis died.

While violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since its peak in 2006-2007, attacks remain common across the country.