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Female Bomber Kills 32 On Iraqi Pilgrimage Route

Pilgrims walk towards the holy southern city of Karbala to mark the 40th day after Ashura on February 12.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- A female suicide bomber killed 32 people and wounded 84 others south of Baghdad when she blew herself up on a major Shi'ite religious pilgrimage route, police have said.

The attack in Al-Iskandariyah, 40 kilometers south of the capital, came a day after a bomb killed eight people in the southerly Shi'ite holy city of Karbala. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are heading to Karbala to mark Arbain, one of the most important dates in the Shi'ite religious calendar.

The Arbain rite marks the end of a mourning period after the anniversary of the death in the seventh century of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein.

The attacks occurred despite heavy security on the pilgrimage route.

A sharp drop in the violence that swept Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion helped allies of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki score extensive victories in Iraq's Shi'ite south in a provincial election last month.

But suicide and car bomb attacks remain common. Suicide bombs are often a hallmark of Sunni Islamist groups like Al-Qaeda.