Dozens of people have been killed in the latest attacks carried out in mainly Shiite areas of Iraq. This came despite massive security deployed to safeguard worshipers marking the annual Ashoura day of mourning.
The deadliest of Thursday's attacks came in the town of al-Saadiya, located 140 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad. Police said 32 people were killed and at least five others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a group of Shiites who had gathered for an Ashoura event.
The event was a recreation of a seventh century battle of Karbala, in which the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein died.
Earlier in the day, two bombs were set off in the town of Hafriyah, about 50 kilometers south of Baghdad, killing nine Shiites who were making their way on foot to Hussein's shrine in Karbala.
The AFP news agency also reported that five people were wounded in twin bombings in the northern city of Kirkuk.
An estimated two million Shiite pilgrims were expected to arrive at the site of the Hussein's shrine in Karbala on Thursday.
The attacks came despite heavy security measures imposed by the authorities in and around Karbala and other mainly Shiite cities, as well as Baghdad.
During the Ashoura processions, some Shiites ritually beat themselves with chains or knives, covering themselves in blood as a sign of their guilt for failing to have defended Hussein during the 680 A.D. battle in which he died.
Iraq has experienced a sharp rise in attacks since security forces cracked down on a Sunni Muslim protest campin the north of the country back in April. Since then, the Shiite-led government has struggled to maintain security, with more than 5,500 people being killed in such attacks, according to United Nations estimates.
pfd/dr (AFP, dpa, AP)