Last updated: 25 May, 2013

Bomb attacks on army and pilgrims kill 10 in Iraq

A roadside bomb attack on an Iraqi army convoy and a car bomb targeting Iranian pilgrims killed 10 people and wounded 19 on Saturday, security officers and doctors said.

Iraq is struggling to contain a wave of violence that has killed more than 430 people so far in May — the second month in a row in which over 400 people died in unrest.

A roadside bomb hit an army convoy near Heet, a town in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, killing five soldiers including a lieutenant colonel, army Brigadier General Haqi Ismail and a doctor said.

The security situation in Anbar, home to two of the main centres of Sunni anti-government protests that broke out almost five months ago, has deteriorated sharply.

And a car bomb targeting a bus carrying the Iranian pilgrims detonated on the highway from Balad to Samarra, killing five people and wounding 19, police and a doctor said, adding that most of the casualties were Iranians.

That attack followed another car bomb against pilgrims travelling the same route last Monday that killed eight people and wounded at least 15.

In both cases, the pilgrims were on their way to a Shiite shrine in Samarra, which was bombed in February 2006, unleashing a wave of sectarian bloodletting in which tens of thousands of people died.

Iraq is home to some of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam and is visited by hundreds of thousands of foreign pilgrims each year, most of them from neighbouring Iran.

Sunni militants in Iraq, including those linked to Al-Qaeda, frequently attack Shiites, whom they regard as apostates.

Tensions are festering in Iraq between the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and the Sunni Arab minority which accuses authorities of discriminating against their community, including through wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak in 2006 and 2007 but attacks are still common, killing more than 200 people in each of the first five months of this year, according to AFP figures.