At least 40 people were martyred and 68 injured in two bomb attacks Monday in the Shia holy city of Karbala as large crowds gathered for a religious ceremony, witnesses and doctors said.In the first incident, a suicide bomber killed 18 people when he blew himself up in the middle of a large group of pilgrims. Minutes later a car bomb exploded some 300 metres away from the initial blast, killing at least another 22 people.
Both explosions took place some 4 km from the centre of the city located some 118 km from the capital Baghdad.
The incident comes on the eve of Shia festivities during which Muslims celebrate the birthday anniversary of Imam Mahdi — the 12th Shia Imam. . Some 30,000 security forces were also deployed to protect the pilgrims, the police said.