Deadly blasts target Iraqi Shias

29 November 2012 Last updated at 04:51 ET Scene of explosion in Hill, Iraq. 29 Nov 2012 The explosions in Hilla also damaged nearby buildings and cars At least 31 people have been killed in bomb attacks on predominantly Shia Muslim areas south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, officials say.

A double bombing in the city of Hilla killed 26 people and wounded scores more.

A car bomb also exploded in the nearby shrine city of Karbala, killing at least five people.

No group has said it carried out the attacks but Sunni militants have targeted the Shia majority in the past.

Pilgrims flock to Karbala each year for Ashura commemorations, the climax of the holy month of Muharram.

The two bombs in Hilla exploded in a busy commercial area. A roadside bomb is said to have detonated first, followed by a car bomb that caught rescuers who had rushed to the scene.

The dead included two women, three children, two medics and a civil defence member, police and medics said.

Witnesses said Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area of the blasts and set up checkpoints in the city.

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In Karbala, a parked car exploded near one of the city gates, a police officer quoted by AP news agency said.

Those who died were civilians but policemen were among more than 20 wounded, he added. The blast also damaged nearby buildings.

A recent upsurge in such attacks has sparked fears of a return to the sectarian conflict that beset Iraq in the years after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Last month twin bomb attacks in Baghdad’s mainly Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City killed at least 13 people.

In August, more than 90 people died in a wave of attacks before Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

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