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Attacks on Shiites in Iraq kill 42

| Monday, June 24, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

BAGHDAD — A series of evening bombings near markets in and around Baghdad, and other blasts north of the capital killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens on Monday in the latest eruption of bloodshed to rock Iraq.

The attacks were the latest in a wave of violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since the beginning of April. Militants, building on Sunni discontent with the Shiite-led government, appear to be growing stronger in central and northern Iraq.

The violence occurred as tens of thousands of Shiites poured into the holy city of Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, for the annual festival of Shabaniyah, marking the anniversary of the birth of the ninth-century Shiite leader known as the Hidden Imam. Tight security measures were in force to try to prevent attacks on the worshippers.

One of the deadliest attacks happened at night when two bombs placed near a market blew up less than a minute apart in Baghdad's mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, killing 10 people and wounding 30.

Police said the second bomb went off among a group of people who had gathered at the scene to help the victims of the first blast.

Bassem Hazim, a merchant from Husseiniyah, said he was preparing for night prayers when he heard an explosion.

“As we came near the blast site, a second bomb went off in the crowd. We helped carry some wounded people to the hospital. All the shops closed and all the shoppers fled, he said, but “government officials are busy with trips abroad and contracts while the country is bleeding.”

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