KERBALA, Iraq,(Reuters) – A suicide car bomber killed at least seven people and wounded 44 in a busy market in the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala on Saturday, hospital sources said. “People shouted at the driver of a pickup truck and told him to move the car, but he did not move. Seconds later it went off,” a witness calling himself only Kefah told Reuters. He said the car had government registration plates.
The blast in sight of the gold dome of the holy shrine of Abbas devastated shop frontages and set cars ablaze, sending clouds of black smoke into the sky as people tried to help the wounded.
Police put the death toll at six killed, 44 wounded. The local hospital said it had received seven bodies, with 44 hurt.
Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) south of Baghdad, has been under heavy security since March 2004, when coordinated suicide bombings killed more than 90 people during an annual religious festival in the city.
Saturday’s bombing was the first major attack there since a suicide bomber blew himself up in January killing 53 people.
Sectarian tension is mounting in Iraq between majority Shi’ites and Sunni Arabs who were once dominant under Saddam Hussein. Some Sunni militants oppose the political process and have launched attacks against U.S. troops and the Shi’ite-led government.