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Suicide Bombers Kill 60 At Baghdad Shrine

At least 89 people died in attacks on April 23, Iraq's bloodiest day in over a year.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- In a second day of major bloodshed, two suicide bombers wearing explosive vests blew themselves up at the gates of a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad, killing 60 people, Iraqi police have said.

The attack was the deadliest single incident in Iraq since 63 people died in a truck bomb blast in Baghdad on June 17 last year, and came amid growing concerns that a recent drop in violence might turn out to have been just a temporary lull.

At least 125 people were wounded in the apparently coordinated blasts at the Imam Musa al-Kadhim shrine in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Kadhimiya, police said. Many of the dead and wounded were Iranian Shi'ite pilgrims.

Police said the attackers approached two different gates to the shrine, which has been a frequent target in the past.

One of the bombers detonated the explosives just inside a courtyard of the shrine, which contains the tombs of two important holy men, or imams.

The blasts on the Muslim holy day followed two suicide bombs on April 23, one in Baghdad and the other in the northeastern province of Diyala, in which at least 89 people died.

Most of the 57 dead in Diyala were Iranians, who have flocked to Iraq's Shi'ite holy sites in the millions since Sunni Arab dictator Saddam Hussein was ousted in the 2003 invasion.

"The incident [in Iraq] yesterday was a very, very hateful example of those who harm religion in the name of religion," influential Iranian cleric and former President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday Prayers.

"We feel sorry for the Iraqi people because such corrupt groups have penetrated into Iraq. We also criticize America for not having the serious will to preserve Iraq's security," Rafsanjani added.

The attacks are coinciding with rising fears of a resurgence in violence as U.S. combat troops prepare to pull out of Iraqi cities in June, ahead of a full U.S. withdrawal by the end of 2011, and doubts that Iraqi police and soldiers will manage to secure the country.

While the violence unleashed in Iraq by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion has fallen dramatically over the past year, insurgent groups like Al-Qaeda continue to carry out frequent attacks. Suicide bombings are a hallmark of Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda.

Iraqi authorities on April 23 announced the arrest of a suspected leader of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated insurgent group, but neither they nor the U.S. military were able to confirm the identity of the person on April 24.