Coordinated bombs kill 20 during Iraq pilgrimage


BAGHDAD (AP) — Four coordinated car bombs tore into processions of Shiite pilgrims across Baghdad early Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens more in Iraq's latest spasm of sectarian-fueled violence, police and medical workers said.

The death toll was expected to rise in Wednesday's attacks — the third this week targeting the annual pilgrimage commemorating the 8th century death of a revered imam. The bombings have threatened to ratchet up sectarian violence.

Two police officers said the first bomb struck pilgrims in a procession at around 5 a.m. in the northern neighborhood of Taji, killing seven and wounding 22 people.

Within hours, three more explosions hit other processions in different parts of the city, killing at least 13 more and wounding 54 people, police officers said. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The pilgrims were making their way to the shrine for a revered Shiite imam for the annual commemoration that climaxes on Saturday. The violence has raised fears of further heightening tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims during a deadlock in Iraq's Shiite-dominated coalition government.