Bus carrying Iranian pilgrims in Iraq comes under attack

No group has claimed responsibility for the ambush

Shiite Muslim pilgrims walk on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad towards the southern Iraqi city of Karbala on October 24, 2018, ahead of the Arbaeen religious festival, which marks the 40th day after Ashura, commemorating the seventh century killing of Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein. / AFP / SABAH ARAR
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A bus carrying Iranian Shiite pilgrims has come under attack in Iraq, according to police and medical officials.

The vehicle was travelling from Samarra to Baghdad when it was targeted about 50 kilometres north of Baghdad by gunmen, the officials said.

Of 10 passengers, seven Iranians were reportedly wounded and taken to hospital, including one woman in serious condition.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

This was not the first attack on Iranian pilgrims in Iraq. Last October, three worshippers were killed by a roadside bomb as they walked to a holy site near the north-eastern city of Khanaqin.

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers gather in the southern city of Karbala every year in Iraq for the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the third Shiite Imam, Hussein.

In November 2016, nearly 77 people, most of them Shiite pilgrims from Iran and Afghanistan, were killed in a lorry bomb attack near Hilla, south of Baghdad.

Hilla is situated between Karbala and Najaf, two cities that are home to religious sites for Shiite Muslims.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a lorry loaded with explosive material and fuel detonated near a petrol station.

The terror group has suffered major blows at the hands of the Iraqi army, supported by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Kurdish armed forces, known as the Peshmerga.

Their attacks intensified on civilians in Iraq as they started to lose ground.

Iran’s involvement in Iraq’s anti-ISIS battle was carried out by the Quds forces, an external wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps led by Qassem Soleimani, who has a significant influence in Iraq.

Baghdad declared victory over ISIS in 2017, but the group has continued a campaign of kidnappings, killing and sporadic attacks since then.

ISIS and other extremist groups such as Al Qaeda view Shiites as apostates.