( AP ) - A mortar round slammed into the road near a district passport office in eastern Baghdad on Sunday, killing one civilian and wounding three policemen, officials said.
The attack came a day after at least 19 people were killed in a series of bombings and rocket attacks nationwide. Despite the sporadic violence, hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims commemorated the death of one of their most revered saints in relative peace on Saturday.
While there was no catastrophic attack during Ashoura, Sunni and Shiite militants kept up the steady, although diminished, level of violence that has been chipping away at recent security gains.
People were lining up for the office's 8 a.m. opening and copying documents at nearby stalls when the blast occurred, according to a guard at the scene in the eastern neighborhood of Zayouna.
"While we were organizing those who were coming to get passports, a mortar round landed here," the guard, Haider Hussein, told AP Television News.
The attack left a small crater in the road, and photocopying stalls were pockmarked by shrapnel.
Zayouna, a religiously mixed neighborhood, was the site of a Jan. 1 suicide bombing that killed at least 36 people after the attacker blew himself up in the mourning tent erected for the funeral of a retired Iraqi army officer who himself had been killed in a car bombing.
A relatively uneventful passage of Ashoura had been seen by U.S. and Iraqi officials as a rigorous test of the decline in violence in the country since Washington sent in 30,000 additional troops last year and many Sunni insurgents suddenly joined American forces in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq.
The 10-day holiday, largely banned by Saddam Hussein and his minority Sunni Muslim regime, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in a seventh century battle near Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad.
The battle defined the split between Islam's Sunni and Shiite sects.
The provincial governor of Karbala, home to the golden domed mosques of Imam Hussein and his half brother Imam Abbas, said 2 millions had converged on the city and no violence was reported there.
However, a rocket slammed into a busy market in the northern city of Tal Afar on Saturday, killing at least seven people who had completed the ritual and gathered there afterward, according to Najim Abdullah, the mayor.
Two bombs hidden under trash blasted an Ashoura procession in Kirkuk, killing at least two, said police Brig. Gen. Burhan Tayeb Taha. Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, has seen a rise in violence as militants have fled crackdowns elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the death toll from clashes that began Friday between Iraqi security forces and members of a messianic Shiite cult in the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyah rose to at least 73 after a policeman died of his injuries.
Police said a Nasiriyah police checkpoint commander had died Sunday, raising the total for that city to 29. At least 44 people were reported killed in Basra.
The militants belonging to the Soldiers of Heaven cult, some of whom reportedly have a number tattooed in blue ink on the back of their necks, seek to invoke chaos as a means of inspiring the return of the "Hidden Imam" - also known as the Mahdi - a descendant of Muhammad who disappeared as a child in the ninth century. Shiites believe he will return one day to bring justice to the world.
Aziz Khazim Alwan, the governor of Dhi Qar, of which Nasiriyah is the capital, said the standoff ended Saturday when Iraqi security forces stormed a mosque sheltering followers of the group, discovering explosives and yellow headbands signifying allegiance to the cult.
Alwan said the militants had targeted Ashoura worshippers but police had intervened to thwart the plot by the radical Shiite group. Last year the group mounted a ferocious attack after Iraqi security forces raided its stronghold near Najaf to foil an alleged plot to slaughter pilgrims and leading clerics during Ashoura.
West of Baghdad, three suicide bombers targeted a police station in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and a former Sunni insurgent stronghold. Guards killed one attacker, but two others detonated their explosives at the entrance, killing at least five officers, authorities said.