NAJAF, Iraq, (AFP) — A car bomb in the centre of the Iraqi city of Najaf wounded 23 people on Sunday, security and medical officials said, a relatively rare attack in the Shiite holy city.
The 7:00 am (0400 GMT) attack struck near a restaurant in Najaf’s old town, provincial health department spokesman Salim Naama said. Of the 23 wounded, four were seriously hurt, he said.
“The terrorists tried to put the car near the shrine, but security measures prevented them from getting there, so they blew it up in the old city,” provincial police chief Major General Abdulkarim al-Amiri told AFP, referring to a shrine to a principal figure of Shiite Islam that is located in Najaf.
He did not give a precise toll from the attack.
Najaf, 150 kilometres (95 miles) south of Baghdad, remains one of Iraq’s safer cities, and is frequented by Shiite Muslims pilgrims from around the world seeking to visit the shrine to Imam Ali, son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Mohammed.
The latest violence comes after the country suffered a spike in unrest in June when at least 282 people were killed, according to an AFP tally, though government figures said 131 Iraqis died.