A car bomb killed six people and wounded 12 in the holy Iraqi Shi’ite city of Kerbala on Monday as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims streamed in for a religious rite, an Iraqi army captain said.
The bomb exploded in a car park on the outskirts of the city where pilgrims heading into Kerbala for the annual Arbain event had parked their vehicles, said the officer, asking not to be identified.
“It’s difficult for us to control every inch of the province. There are waves of pilgrims,” the army captain said when asked how the bomb had gotten through a security cordon of 120,000 police and troops deployed to protect the pilgrims.
Other sources provided conflicting tolls and accounts.
Nusaif al-Khattab, deputy head of the Kerbala provincial council, said five people were wounded.
A hospital source, who asked not to be identified, said the blast killed two people and wounded 13, while a police source said one person was killed and three wounded. He said the explosion was caused by a defective gas cylinder, not a bomb.
Iraq has been rocked by a series of blasts in recent days ahead of the culmination of Arbain.