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Bloodshed mars Iraqi religious festival

Bloodshed mars Iraqi religious festival
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Violence continues to overshadow the Shi’ite festival of Ashura in Iraq.

A militant blew himself up in a crowd near a mosque in Baghdad, killing several people and injuring dozens. Earlier a suicide bomber carried out an attack at an army checkpoint in the flashpoint city of Baquba, north of the capital. It was claimed by the group of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The violence comes a day after strikes on mosques left at least 27 people dead. Security has been stepped up in Shi’ite districts across the country. Today is the climax of Ashura, during which the faithful mark the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson 1,300 years ago. They have blamed yesterday’s attacks on Sunni extremists, who they say view Ashura as an obvious target, especially after a Shi’ite alliance was confirmed as the winner of last month’s historic election. Blasts during last year’s Ashura killed more than 180 people.
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