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Explosions Hit Shi'ite Shrines in Baghdad And Karbala - 2004-03-02


Explosions rock major Iraqi Shi'ite shrines in Baghdad and the holy city of Karbala, causing many casualties amid solemn religious observances.

A series of explosions rocked major Iraqi Shi'ite shrines in Baghdad and the holy city of Karbala today (Tuesday) amid solemn religious observances.

In Baghdad, at least four blasts occurred in the area of the Kazimiya shrine, in one of the city's Shi'ite neighborhoods. News reports citing hospital sources say at least 58 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded.

In Karbala, at least five explosions rocked several areas of the city, including two of the most revered Shi'ite shrines -- the Imam Hussein mausoleum and the Abbas mosque.

Local authorities say at least 30 people were killed and scores of others wounded in the blasts in Karbala.

It is not clear what caused the explosions. There are indications that suicide bombers may have been involved.

The attacks occurred as tens of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims from many countries were participating in religious ceremonies of Ashura, which commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Mohammed.

The ceremonies culminate today (Tuesday), the 10th day of the Muslim month of Muharram, which marks the time the Imam was killed and beheaded by his enemies in Karbala more than 13 hundred years ago.

U.S.-led coalition authorities have long been concerned about the possibility of insurgent attacks during Ashura observances, which were banned in Iraq for decades under Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, one American soldier was killed and another seriously wounded when insurgents threw a bomb at their vehicle on a road in the Iraqi capital.

In another incident, a roadside bomb blast in a Baghdad neighborhood (Karada) injured a number of people and damaged a vehicle used by Arabic-language Al-Jazeera television.

Information for this report is proivided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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