Iraq: Suicide bomber kills 22 Shiites at ritual

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Shiite faithful worshippers gather between the holy shrines of Imam Abbas and Imam Hussein, seen in the background, during Muharram, an important period of mourning for Shiites in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The remembrance of Muharram marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala when Imam Hussein, a grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber has struck a group of Shiites marking a somber religious ritual in eastern Iraq, killing at least 22 people.

Two police officers say the bomber set off his explosives-laden belt on Thursday among a gathering of Shiites in the town of al-Saadiyah, 140 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

The Shiites were observing the Ashoura, an annual commemoration of the 7th century death of Prophet Mohammed grandson.

The officers say the attack wounded around 70 people. Two medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to media.

Earlier in the day, a bombing south of Baghdad killed nine Shiite pilgrims.

Ashoura is often targeted by Sunni extremists who consider Shiites to be heretics.