IRAQ

At least 35 die after suicide attack in Baghdad

A female suicide bomber killed at least 35 civilians and wounded 65 others near a shiite shrine in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, according to officials. The attack happened during a religious procession.

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AFP - A female suicide bomber killed 35 civilians, including women and children, and wounded 65 others on a religious march near the Kadhimiyah shrine in northern Baghdad on Sunday, a government official said.

"A woman wearing an explosive belt blew herself up near one of the gates of the shrine," Iraqi spokesman for security operations in Baghdad Major General Qassim Atta told AFP.

"Accoding to our first preliminary report 35 were killed and 65 injured. Most of them were Iranian pilgrims and women and children," Atta said, describing the force of the blast as "very big."

A defence ministry official said the attack came at about 11am (0800 GMT) as Iranian pilgrims took part in the procession related to the Ashura ceremonies that climax on January 7.

The festival mourns the killing of Imam Hussein by armies of the Sunni caliph Yazid in the year 680. It is characterised by processions of wailing men beating their chests and engaged in devotional self-flagellation.

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