BAGHDAD: A car bomb in Iraq killed at least nine people on a route taken by pilgrims returning from commemorations in Baghdad for a revered Shiite imam on Saturday, marring a ritual attended by tens of thousands.
A medical source said that four Baghdad hospitals had between them received 47 wounded people and the bodies of nine others.
An interior ministry official said the bomb, which exploded on the highway near Shuala in the north of the capital at about 12:15 pm (0915 GMT), killed 14 people and wounded 32 others.
The attack came as tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims flocked to the Kadhimiyah area for the climax of commemorations marking the death in 799 of Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams, who is said to have been poisoned.
The Baghdad Operations Command, meanwhile, said in a statement sent by SMS that the attack was a suicide bombing, and that security forces had arrested a man who accompanied the bomber but got out of the vehicle before the explosion.
An AFP journalist said there were four burned cars and two minibuses at the scene of the blast, one of which was completely destroyed.
Car parts were blown more than 100 metres (yards) from the site of the blast.
"We took many people out from the buses, and all of them were burned," one man who had been serving water to pilgrims said, declining to give his name.
Some people were screaming, while others appeared to be dead, he said.
"It was terrible. I will never be able to forget this scene." (AFP)