Middle East
Deadly explosions hit Iraq's Karbala city
Four blasts outside government offices in the shrine city leave at least 10 people dead and dozens wounded.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2011 10:04
Sunday's explosions in Karbala were the latest in an ongoing series of deadly attacks around the country [AFP]

Four explosions have rocked the Iraqi city of Karbala, around 118km south of the capital Baghdad, leaving at least 10 people dead and 36 more wounded, sources say.
The back-to-back explosions occurred on Sunday outside a governmental building and damaged many cars, police officials said.

The first blast tore though a crowd of guards and civilians gathered in front of an office issuing identity cards and passports, while the three other explosions went off a short time later as emergency services arrived.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, caused by explosive packages, according to police.

"I was inside my house when I heard a big explosion. When I got out I saw many people wounded and some bodies on the ground," Mohammed Naeim, a local resident, told the Reuters news agency.

Bombings and attacks are once again becoming an almost daily occurrence, often targeting security personnel, after a drop in violence levels.

"The bomb attacks in Karbala today have so far killed nine people and there are 99 people wounded," Alaa Hammudi, head of Karbala province's health department, said.

He said the toll could rise further.

Lieutenant-General Othman al-Ghanimi, the army commander for forces across five provinces in central Iraq, including Karbala, put the toll at 10 dead and 86 wounded.

He said the four explosions included two roadside bombs, a car bomb and a suicide explosion, but did not say the order in which they happened.

Collapsed houses

An AFP journalist at the scene reported seeing several bodies covered in blood being taken away by paramedics, and major damage to vehicles and buildings, with some houses completely collapsed.

Security forces cordoned off the area in the aftermath of the attacks, the journalist said.

An interior ministry official said entrances to Karbala had been closed. It is a predominantly Shia city that is home to the mausoleums of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas.

It has frequently been the target of Sunni Muslim fighters in the past, such as on January 20 when a spate of blasts against Shia pilgrims on the outskirts of Karbala killed 45 people.

In the western city of Ramadi, meanwhile, two roadside bombs killed two people and wounded six others, including two young girls, a police officer and an anti-al-Qaeda fighters said.

An initial explosion at the home of Mohammed Awwad, a tribal chief, killed a woman and wounded the girls, the security officials said.

The second, which occurred when police arrived, killed a man and wounded four others, including three policemen.

Ramadi is the capital of Anbar province, a Sunni fighters' base in the years after the US-led invasion of 2003, but since 2006 local tribes have sided with the US military and day-to-day violence has dropped dramatically.

In the north Baghdad neighbourhood of Hurriya, meanwhile, the driver of a senior official in Iraq's human rights ministry was killed by assailants using silenced pistols, an interior ministry official said.

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