6 Jan 2012

Pilgrims killed by bomber

5:39 am on 6 January 2012

A suicide bomber has killed 44 Shi'ite pilgrims in southern Iraq and wounded many more.

A provincial government website said pilgrims were walking towards the holy city of Karbala when explosives were detonated at a rest stop. More than 70 other people were wounded.

Earlier, at least 24 people were killed in a number of blasts in Shia areas of Baghdad, including the Sadr City district.

The interior ministry says all of the dead were civilians. At least 66 people were wounded.

Iraq has been in crisis since an arrest warrant was issued for Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges two weeks ago. He has denied the accusations against him.

The BBC reports Mr Hashemi, a Sunni, is in Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, has demanded that they give him up.