2008-07-28 15:00:30 GMT 2008-07-28 23:00:30 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
An injured victim is carried away from the scene of a bomb attack in Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, July 28, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
A bombing attack victim receives treatment at a hospital in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, July 28, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
BAGHDAD, July 28 (Xinhua) -- A string of suicide bombings struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and a Kurdish rally in the northern ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk on Monday, killing up to 46 people and wounded more than 250 others.
Violence began in Baghdad on Monday morning when three female suicide bombers blew up their explosive vests among crowds of Shiite worshippers, killing 24 people and wounded 62 others, the police said.
The worshippers were travelling on foot to commemorate the annual pilgrimage of the death of the seventh of the twelve most revered Shiite Imams.
A first woman suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew herself up among a group of pilgrims near the National Theater in Karrada neighborhood in central Baghdad, the police said.
A second female suicide bomber struck another crowd of pilgrims near the Kahramana Square in the neighborhood, while a third woman suicide bomber hit another group of pilgrims near the Musa Bin Nasir fuel station in the same neighborhood, according to the police.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims converge from Iraqi cities and Shiite Muslim countries, particularly Iran, at the mausoleum of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, whose tomb is in a golden-domed mosque in the center of the old part of the Kadhimiya district.
In a separate attack, a suicide bomber blew up his explosive-belt among a crowd of Kurdish people demonstrating in front of the government building in central Kirkuk, killing 22 people and wounded 187 others, Brigadier Burhan Wasif, a police chief in the city, told Xinhua.
The attack targeted demonstrators who rallied to protest the passage of a controversial law on the provincial election by the Iraqi parliament, Wasif said.
On July 22, the Iraqi parliament approved a key election bill, despite a walk-out by lawmakers from the Kurdish coalition bloc.
After the attack, dozens of angry protestors attacked the offices of a Turkmen political party with small arms fire and machine guns, setting fire to one of the offices and wounding six guards inside, Wasif said.
Wasif confirmed that the security situation in the oil-rich city is under control after the Iraqi police forces deployed in its main streets and government buildings.
The Turkmen and Arab minorities in the city oppose Kurdish claims to annex Kirkuk to their autonomous region in northern Iraq.
Monday's suicide attacks came as a grisly reminder that security remains fragile despite the fact that violence has fallen to its lowest level in four years.