A string of bombings in Iraq have killed at least 48 people and left more than 100 others wounded.
In the deadliest attack on Thursday, more than 33 people were killed and about 90 others injured in explosions in the southern city of Hilla, near tents set up for Shia pilgrims. A roadside bomb was followed by a car bomb targeting emergency response teams.
Twisted and charred vehicles were left outside damaged stores as shopkeepers collected their strewn merchandise from the bloodstained pavement in the Shia-majority city.
An eatery full of labourers and municipal workers having breakfast were hit by the explosions.
Hilla is on the route for Shia pilgrims on their way to Karbala, one of the holiest cities for the Shia sect.
Just hours earlier, a car bomb killed at least six people and left more than a dozen wounded near a shrine in Karbala.
A police spokesman said security forces closed off all roads leading to the old city, where al-Hussein, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson is buried, and were searching for a second car bomb.
Millions of pilgrims flock to Karbala each year to mark al-Hussein’s death during Ashoura, which peaked on November 25 this year.
Pilgrims also walk from across Iraq to Karbala during the 40-day mourning period that follows Ashoura.
Thursday’s attacks marked the second wave of bombings against Shias this week after three car bombs exploded near their places of worship in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding 50.
Elsewhere in the country, two bombs targeted security forces in Fallujah and near Mosul.
East of Mosul city, a car bomb killed two, including a police officer, near a police checkpoint. Another two civilians were wounded in the blast.
In central Fallujah, a suicide bomber walked up to a bank and killed three army soldiers when he detonated his explosive vest. Another eight were wounded in a line of soldiers queued up to receive their monthly salaries at the time of the attack.
An off-duty police officer was killed in Diyala province when a bomb attached to his car exploded on Thursday morning.
In Baghdad, police sealed off the Green Zone and areas leading to it after dismantling a bomb, Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from the city, said.
The “wide variety of targets” on Thursday, said our correspondent, were meant to be a sign “to show that Iraqi security cannot keep their people safe”.