KARBALA, Iraq, AP -A suicide bomber set off explosives near one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines Thursday, killing almost 50 people, officials said.
The blast near the Imam Hussein shrine in central Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, killed 49 people and injured 52, said Karbala police Col. Razaq al-Taie.
The site was a scene of chaos afterward with men ferrying the wounded in push carts and pools of blood on the ground. The bomber appeared to have set off the explosion only about 30 yards from the shrine in a busy shopping area.
The bomber detonated about 17 pounds of explosives and several hand grenades, Al-Taie said.
Al-Khazraji blamed the attack on “takfiris and Saddamists.” The takfiri ideology is followed by extremist Sunni Muslims bent on killing anyone considered to be an infidel, even fellow Muslims who disagree with their doctrine. Al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a takfiri.
Also Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself up Thursday outside a police recruiting center in the restive city of Ramadi, killing at least 30 people and injuring another 40, police and hospital officials said.
The attack happened at a police screening center in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 70 miles west of Baghdad. At least 30 people were killed, said Mohammed al-Ani, a doctor at Ramadi General Hospital and police Capt. Nassir al-Alousi.
The attacks follows a heavy day of violence Wednesday, when at least 53 people were killed around Iraq, including 32 killed by a suicide bomber at a Shiite funeral east of Baqouba.
Karbala has been relatively free of violence since December 2004, when seven people were killed and 31 wounded in an attack. In March of that year coordinated attacks from suicide bombers and preset explosions on Karbala’s holy sites killed more than 100.