BAGHDAD – A car bomb exploded Saturday near one of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines in Karbala, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 150. At least 16 children were among the dead in the latest horrific assault away from the American-led security crackdown in Baghdad.
A suicide bomber also struck in Baghdad, blowing up his car on a major bridge and killing 10 in the second such attack in 48 hours.
Chaotic arguing erupted in Iraq’s legislature, with the parliament speaker shouting for order as lawmakers squabbled over who was to blame for holes in security that allowed a suicide bomber to mingle among them Thursday and kill a Sunni Arab lawmaker.
The political wrangling underlined the continuing weakness of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government despite a more than 2-month-old U.S.-Iraqi military operation intended to pacify Baghdad and give his regime room to function.
In addition to the bombings in Karbala and Baghdad, at least 40 people were killed or found dead across Iraq on Saturday. The U.S. military announced the death of one service member, killed Friday by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq.
The bloodshed in Karbala came when a parked car loaded with explosives blew up at a busy bus station at midmorning, killing at least 37 people and wounding 168, police and hospital officials said. Other reports put the death toll as high as 56.
The station is about 200 yards from one of Shiite Muslims’ holiest spots – the Imam Hussein shrine, where the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson is buried. The shrine, 50 miles south of Baghdad, is the destination of an annual Shiite pilgrimage, during which hundreds of followers were slain last month.