The bombing hit a group of pilgrims waiting near a garage. — Photo by Reuters

HILLA: A car bomb wounded 15 Afghan pilgrims on their way to the Shia shrine cities of central Iraq early on Monday, medical and security officials said.

The bombing, which struck west of the city of Hilla, hit a group of pilgrims waiting near a garage just after midnight, a police officer in the province said.

“We received 15 wounded persons, including three people seriously hurt by the explosion,” said Mohammed al-Shammari, a doctor at Hilla hospital.

The police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave the same casualty toll.

Shia pilgrims from around the world flock to the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala. Their numbers surge for the festival of Arbaeen, which marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the killing of Imam Hussein, one of Shia Islam's most revered figures, by the armies of the Caliph Yazid in 680 AD.

Attacks against Shias in Baghdad and the south on Thursday left 70 people dead and more than 100 wounded, in Iraq's bloodiest day since last August.

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