BAGHDAD A car bomb explosion tore through a crowd of Shiite pilgrims returning home Thursday from a religious commemoration, killing at least 20 and reinforcing fears of renewed sectarian violence, according to Iraqi officials.
The blast erupted late in the afternoon in the town of Musayyib, about 40 miles south of the Iraqi capital. It targeted worshippers returning from the Shiite holy city of Karbala after the climax of the religious commemoration known as Arbaeen.
Children were among the 20 people confirmed killed, according to a police official. He said at least 50 people were wounded.
The explosion went off in the middle of a gathering of pilgrims changing buses coming from Karbala on their way to other destinations in the country, according to police.
A hospital official confirmed the casualty toll. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to reporters.
Thursday marked the height of Arbaeen, when hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims converged on Karbala to mark the passing of 40 days after the anniversary of the seventh-century martyrdom of the revered Shiite saint Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.