Woman blows herself up in Iraq; over 140 casualties

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Map of Karbala, Iraq.

A woman Iraqi suicide bomber yesterday killed at least 41 people, including women and children, and injured at least one hundred others in north-eastern Baghdad, according to an interior ministry spokesman. The attack took place in the middle of a group of pilgrims walking to Karbala, marking Arbaeen, a period of mourning for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

Witnesss, Raheen Kadhom, told AFP the pilgrims were lying injured "crying for help". He said, from standing 150 yards away, he saw a "huge fireball" erupt among the pilgrims. The blast was powerful enough to knock shoes off many of the casualties. Bystanders took the injured to local hospitals by car, as opposed to waiting for ambulances.

Security forces were on high alert after the blast, although Iraqi forces lack manpower to conduct searches of women, and sniffer dogs are unable to be used due to cultural sensitivities.

The pilgrimage has been the target of several attacks in recent years, including a suicide bomber killing 32 last January.