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Iraq: 5 killed in attack on Iranian pilgrims

  • Story Highlights
  • Gunmen ambushed convoy carrying Iranian pilgrims in Diyala province
  • Official: Gun attack left five dead and 35 other pilgrims wounded
  • Iraq's holy shrines attract a growing number of Shiite pilgrims
  • Pilgrims targeted by Sunni extremists trying to ignite Iraq's sectarian conflict
By Jomana Karadsheh
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least five Iranian pilgrims were killed and dozens more wounded Wednesday in an attack northeast of Baghdad, security officials said.

Gunmen using machine guns, ambushed a convoy with three buses carrying Iranian pilgrims in the Diyala province killing at least five and leaving 35 other pilgrims wounded, an Iraqi military official in the province said.

The attack was in the Imam Wais area about 70 kilometers (43 miles) northeast of Diyala's provincial capital of Baquba.

In April, a suicide bombing at the Imam Wais area struck a restaurant where Iranian pilgrims were gathered for lunch. More than 50 Iranians were killed in that attack and dozens more wounded.

Iraq is the home to most of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines and the number of Shiites visiting Iraq for pilgrimages has increased recently.

Shiite pilgrims are frequently targeted by Sunni extremists who are trying to reignite Iraq's bloody sectarian conflict.

Last week hundreds of thousands of Shiites converged on Baghdad's Kadhimiya shrine for a major pilgrimage that passed with no major incident.

This was hailed by the U.S. and Iraqi officials as a major success for the country's security forces that secured the pilgrimage with little U.S. military support after American combat forces completed their withdrawal from urban areas last month.

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