KARBALA: A truck bomb killed 19 worshippers south of Baghdad on Thursday as pilgrims from around the world thronged Iraq's shrine city of Karbala.
The attack came despite a massive security operation mounted to safeguard the millions of pilgrims travelling to and from Karbala for the conclusion of Arbaeen mourning rituals.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in a car park in the town of Musayyib used mainly for vehicles transporting pilgrims.
The 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) blast killed 19 people and wounded 47, a police officer and a doctor said, the second deadly attack in recent days in Musayyib, which lies about half way along the main route linking Baghdad and Karbala.
Seven people were killed in Musayyib on December 31.
Among the dead in Thursday's attack were five women and four children, the medic said, adding that the toll could rise because many of the wounded were badly hurt. The police officer said the blast was caused by a truck packed with explosives.
In east Baghdad, meanwhile, a roadside bomb struck a minibus transporting pilgrims on Thursday evening, wounding at least eight of them, officials said.
The threat of attack had spurred authorities to deploy 35,000 soldiers and police to Karbala, including 2,500 policewomen, in the run-up to and the climax of Arbaeen.