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At least 5 Shiite pilgrims killed in Baghdad

From Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
  • Pilgrims marching to Karbala for Shiite holy day of Ashura
  • Pilgrims die in five separate attacks in Baghdad
  • Two people die in blast near Christian church in Mosul
  • It's second bombing near church in Mosul in a week
  • Iraq
  • Baghdad
  • Shia Islam

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Attackers targeting Shiite pilgrims killed five people and wounded 44 Wednesday afternoon in Baghdad, authorities said.

The pilgrims -- converging on the capital for a Shiite holy day -- were killed in five separate attacks, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said.

Also, two people were killed and four were wounded in a bus bombing in a Shiite area of northwestern Baghdad called Kadhimiya, the officials said. But police said they weren't sure whether the victims of the bus bombing were pilgrims.

However, officials said a roadside bomb in Mahmoudiya outside Baghdad did wound two pilgrims Wednesday night.

Security is out in force for the holy Shiite day of Ashura, an event in which there has been much sectarian violence in the past.

Hundreds of thousands of the pilgrims are expected in Baghdad and the southern Iraqi city of Karbala for the commemoration, which falls on Sunday.

Ashura remembers the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was killed in battle in Karbala in 680. It was one of the events that helped create the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, the two main Muslim religious movements.

In other violence in Iraq:

• In Abu Ghraib on the outskirts of Baghdad, gunmen shot and killed three police officers at a checkpoint early Wednesday.

• In the northern city of Mosul, two people were killed and five were wounded Wednesday when a bomb went off near a Christian church. It was the second blast near a church in the city this week. In July, authorities increased security around all Christian places of worship after a wave of church bombings.

• Army Gen. Riyadh Abdul Majid was shot and killed Tuesday night outside his home in western Baghdad, the ministry said.