A car bomb ripped through a funeral procession near a mosque in central Iraq on Friday evening, killing at least 10 people, part of nationwide violence that left 14 dead.
The explosion occurred at around 5:30 pm (1430 GMT) outside the Nabi Ayub Shiite mosque, just south of Hilla, the capital of Babil province, as mourners were gathering for the funeral of Abdelamir Jaffar al-Khafaji, a leader of the Al-Khafaja tribe who died of natural causes.
A doctor at Hilla’s main hospital put the toll at 10 killed and 45 wounded, while a police lieutenant said 10 people died and 29 were injured.
“I was 50 metres (yards) away from the explosion when it happened,” said mourner Mohammed Kadhim, 45. “It happened near where the cars were parking, close to the entrance of the mosque.”
“Then I saw dozens of people. Some were dead, some were injured. It was a chaotic scene.”
Ali Khafaji, who was also attending, said he was “astonished at how the explosion happened, because on the way to the funeral, there were many police checkpoints.”
The attack was condemned by parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, who said the blame for the violence lay with the “security apparatus”.
Hilla, 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, lies along the route to Shiite pilgrimage sites in Najaf and Karbala, and Babil province has itself been the frequent target of attacks by Sunni insurgents.
On September 14, a car bomb outside a restaurant frequented by security force members in the town of Medhatiyah, just east of Hilla, killed 13 people and injured 42.
The deadliest violence in the city this year occurred on May 5 when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed car at a police station, killing 24 policemen. The attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda’s front group, the Islamic State of Iraq.
North of Baghdad, meanwhile, three people were killed, including a policeman, in multiple attacks in the restive province of Diyala, a security official said.
An initial magnetic “sticky bomb” attached to a car killed the vehicle’s driver and wounded a passenger in Diyala’s capital Baquba. Shortly afterwards, gunmen wearing police uniforms opened fire on a nearby checkpoint, killing one officer and wounding two others.
In the town of Baladruz, east of Baquba, a roadside bomb killed a car driver and wounded the vehicle’s passenger, the security official said.
In the capital, a roadside bomb targeting a shop selling birds in the eastern neighbourhood of Zafraniyah killed at least one person, officials said.
An interior ministry official put the toll at one dead and eight wounded from the attack, while a doctor at a nearby hospital said two people were killed and six were injured.
Violence is down nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 239 people were killed in violence in Iraq in August, according to official figures.