8 killed in insurgent attacks in Iraq

8 killed in insurgent attacks in Iraq

At least eight people were killed, including a Pakistani Shiite pilgrim, and 16 others wounded in suicide bombings and shootings across Iraq, police said on Wednesday.

In one of the attacks, a suicide bomber in the morning rammed his explosive-laden car into a police checkpoint in al-Hamdhiyah district, in eastern Anbar's provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, killing two policemen and wounding five others, including an officer, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, two government employees were killed when gunmen opened fire on their car in the town of Dowr, some 150 km north of Baghdad, a local police source said.

Earlier in the day, a police source told Xinhua that a suicide bomber tried to blow up his explosive vest among a crowd of Shiite pilgrims before noon in the town of Khalis near the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

One of the policemen guarding the pilgrims' procession recognized the bomber and embraced him to shield the pilgrims but the blast killed him, another policeman and a female government- backed Sahwa paramilitary group member tasked with checking female pilgrims, the source said.

In an earlier attack, gunmen opened fire late on Tuesday night on a bus carrying Pakistani Shiite pilgrims travelling on a main near the city of Balad, some 80 km north of Baghdad, killing a Pakistani pilgrim and wounding 11 others, a local police source told Xinhua.

The attacks are the latest in a series of attacks against the Shiite pilgrims in the past few days that killed and wounded dozens of pilgrims who usually travel on foot from different parts of Iraq heading to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, to observe the Arbaeen religious ritual ahead of its climax day next Tuesday.

Arbaeen is the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson and the third holy figure for the Shiite Muslim sect, who was killed in the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.

Many Iraqis are worried about a resurgence of violence, ethnic and sectarian strife that nearly tore the country apart few years ago.

Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, 8,109 Iraqis were killed in the country from January to November this year.

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