At least 17 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a car bomb attack in Iraq's capital Baghdad. Authorities said the victims were Shiite pilgrims walking to the holy Kadhimiyah shrine.
Police said the car bomb exploded near a group of Shiite Muslim pilgrims in the southeastern suburb of Nahrawan on Saturday morning.
Local officials said the blast injured more than 40 people who were making their way to the shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim in northern Baghdad for annual commemorations.
Kadhim, the seventh of 12 imams revered in Shiite Islam, died at the end of the 8th century. Thousands of Iraqis are expected to travel on foot to the imam's shrine over the coming days to mark the anniversary of his death.
News agencies reported varying versions of Saturday's attack. One source put the death toll as high as 21. Some reports said a suicide bomber driving a car blew himself up, while others said the bomb had been left by the roadside.
Thousands of Shiite Muslims join commemorations on the anniversary of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim's death each year
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but the militant group "Islamic State" (IS) has previously carried out a number of attacks on civilians in and around the Iraqi capital, particularly in Shiite neighborhoods. The Sunni extremists view Shiites as heretics deserving of death.
Last year's pilgrimage was also marred by attacks against worshippers. And over the past month more than 40 civilians have been killed in bombings in Baghdad.
IS overran large areas north and west of the city in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led military assistance have since regained significant ground.
nm/jm (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)