(CNN) -- At least 25 people were killed and 72 were wounded in a triple bombing at a crowded market Thursday in Najaf, one of Iraq's holiest cities, an Interior Ministry official said.
A car bomb and two roadside bombs detonated in quick succession about 5:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET) near the market in the city center. Thursday evenings are usually busy at markets as people start their weekend.
The blasts happened near a Shiite shrine.
Najaf, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Baghdad, is home to the tomb of Imam Ali, cousin of the Prophet Mohammed.
Iraqi and U.S. officials have warned of an increase in violence ahead of elections being held on March 7. Attacks in the Shiite heartland in southern Iraq are not as frequent as they are in other parts of the country.