BAGHDAD (AP) — Insurgents launched a wave of attacks across Iraq on Monday, primarily targeting Shiite communities and pilgrims and killing at least 23 people, officials said.
The attacks appeared aimed at undermining security and confidence in the government by fomenting sectarian conflict. Overall violence has dropped since the nation neared a civil war several years ago, but attacks of a sectarian nature come almost daily, and government forces seem powerless to prevent them.
The deadliest blasts on Monday were in the town of Musayyib, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital, where militants planted bombs around two houses, one belonging to a police officer. Two women, two children and three men were killed in the pre-dawn explosions, a police officer said.
In Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Karrada, a parked car bomb went off next to a tent for Shiite pilgrims making their way to the southern city of Karbala to mark the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, a police officer said. Five were killed and 25 wounded, he said.
The explosion rattled nearby buildings and sent a thick plume of black smoke billowing into the air. Ambulances and police rushed to the scene in the busy downtown shopping district, and several helicopters hovered above.
A roadside bomb injured six pilgrims in the capital's Baiyaa neighborhood later in the evening, according to police.
That came hours after a parked car bomb exploded in a busy street in the city of Hillah where local government offices are located, killing three people and wounding 21, another police officer said. He said some Shiite pilgrims were among the casualties, but he didn't say how many. Hillah is about 95 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad.