JNN 18 Nov 2012 Baghdad : At least seven Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims from Iran and Pakistan were killed in Iraq on Saturday when a car bomb went off by a restaurant in a city north of the capital, police and hospital sources said.
The attack took place a few days into the holy Day of Ashura, which is of special significance to Shi’ite Muslims, who are targeted by al Qaeda’s Iraqi affiliate and other Wahabi insurgents.
According to the police, at about 1:30 p.m. local time (1030 GMT) on Saturday, a parked car blew up near a restaurant on the outskirts of the city of Balad, central province of Salahuddin , 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad killing seven Shia religious tourists, Reuters reported , who were travelling back to the capital from the Shi’ite holy city of Samarra.
The Shia religious tourists were on their way to visit the Al-Askari shrine in the city of Samarra.
A further 25 people were wounded in the blast, medics said.
Almost one year after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, al Qaeda’s local wing has vowed to revive attacks against the country’s Shi’ites in an attempt to reignite the kind of sectarian violence that drove the country to the edge of civil war four years ago.
Attacks against Shi’ites have often increased during Ashura, when Shi’ites commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson Imam Hussein fighting against the Devilish Yazid Bin Maviya .
The attack occurred on the second day of the Islamic lunar first month of Muharram, which is the month that Imam Hussein (PBUH) — the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) — and his 72 companions were martyred.
The ceremonies commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH) will reach the most important point on the Day of Ashura — the tenth day of Muharram.
Ashura, which falls on November 25 this year, is the anniversary of the day in 680 CE when thousands of forces loyal to the despotic second Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Muawiyah martyred Imam Hussein (PBUH) and his 72 companions in Karbala, Iraq.
Millions of people flood Karbala for the Ashura religious rituals every year.