Baghdad bombing targets Shi'ite pilgrims

A Shi’ite Muslim pilgrim walks on a main road in Baghdad's Dora district, as tens of thousands of observant Shi’ites head on foot towards the holy city of Karbala to take part in the Arbaeen religious festival. (Sabah Arar, AFP)
A Shi’ite Muslim pilgrim walks on a main road in Baghdad's Dora district, as tens of thousands of observant Shi’ites head on foot towards the holy city of Karbala to take part in the Arbaeen religious festival. (Sabah Arar, AFP)

Bsaghdad - Iraqi officials say a suicide bombing in Baghdad targeting Shi'ite Muslims taking part in an annual pilgrimage has killed nine people and wounded another 21.

Monday's attack targeted a checkpoint along a route used by pilgrims in the northern Baghdad neighbourhood of al-Shaab.

Police officials say four soldiers are among the dead.

It was the first attack on Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad during the lead-up to the religious commemoration known as Arbaeen, when Shiite faithful converge on the holy city of Karbala.

The annual commemoration is often marked by violence despite tight security measures to protect the pilgrims, many of whom travel to Karbala on foot.

Earlier Iraq's military command had told civilians in the Islamic State-held Ramadi to leave the city, a sign that an operation may soon be underway to retake the provincial capital.

Monday's statement, broadcast on Iraqi state TV, says the Ramadi families are requested to leave the city from its southern, Himaira area. No further instructions or details were given.

It's unclear if the long-awaited operation to recapture Ramadi is imminent.

The Sunni extremist group controls large swaths of territory in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

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