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Iraq Car Bomb Kills At Least 19 Shi’ite Pilgrims

Reports from Iraq say a car bomb explosion tore through a crowd of Shi'ite pilgrims, killing at least 19 people and wounded more than 40 others south of Baghdad.

Officials say the attack took place on January 3 in the mostly Shi’ite town of Musayyib.

The bomb hit the pilgrims as they were returning from the city of Karbala where they commemorated the Arbaeen annual mourning rituals.

The Reuters news agency reported that a suicide attacker set off the bomb.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni radical groups frequently attack Shi'ite pilgrims during mourning rituals.

On December 31, seven people were killed in Musayyib when three houses were blown up.

Officials said the victims were apparently targeted because they were Shi’a.

Thousands Rally Against Iraqi Government

News of the bombing comes as protesters across Iraq have been calling for the release of prisoners and the resignation of the prime minister.

Reports say thousands of protesters took to streets in Sunni-majority areas on January 3, the latest in more than a week of antigovernment rallies.

Hundreds of protesters from mostly Shi’ite areas of Baghdad and south Iraq joined the rallies, days after Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr backed the demonstrations.

In a move to address a key demand by protesters, authorities ordered the release of 11 women facing criminal charges and pledged to transfer other women prisoners to jails in their home provinces.

Sunni Arab protesters are angered by what they perceive as discrimination and the unfair application of laws against their sect by Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP

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