BAGHDAD: Violence including an attack on Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad killed at least 73 people across Iraq on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), among them two journalists gunned down in the north, officials said.
Violence is at a level unseen since 2008, and there are persistent fears that Iraq will relapse into the kind of intense Sunni-Shiite bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.
Accounts differed as to whether the attack on the pilgrims in the Adhamiyah area of north Baghdad, which killed at least 49 people and wounded at least 75, was a bomb followed by a suicide bombing, or a suicide attack alone.
It came as pilgrims walked to a shrine to commemorate the death of Imam Mohammed al-Jawad, the ninth Shiite imam.
Iraq is home to some of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam, and millions of pilgrims visit them each year.
But crowds of pilgrims are frequently targeted by Sunni militants including those linked to al-Qaeda, who consider Shiites to be apostates.
Earlier, gunmen killed two Iraqi journalists in the northern city of Mosul.
The Sharqiya television channel said two of its journalists—correspondent Mohammed Karim al-Badrani and cameraman Mohammed Ghanem—were “assassinated” in Mosul.
Police and a doctor confirmed the two journalists had been shot dead.
Their reports on security forces and officials in Mosul had brought death threats from militant groups opposed to the government, a Sharqiya journalist said on condition of anonymity.
Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over shortcomings in media freedoms.
“Many Iraqi journalists are routinely exposed to threats, murder attempts, attacks, difficulties obtaining permission, denial of access, confiscation of equipment and so on,” media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this year.