Attack on Shi'ite pilgrims kills 49 in Iraq: officials

BAGHDAD (AFP) - An attack targeting Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad killed at least 49 people and wounded at least 75 on Saturday, officials said.

Accounts differed as to whether the attack in the Adhamiyah area of north Baghdad was a bomb followed by a suicide bombing, or a suicide bombing alone.

The attack came as pilgrims walked to a shrine in Adhamiyah to commemorate the death of Imam Mohammed al-Jawad, the ninth Shi'ite imam.

Iraq is home to some of the holiest sites in Shi'ite Islam, and millions of pilgrims visit them each year.

But crowds of pilgrims thronging the roads are frequently targeted by Sunni militants including those linked to Al-Qaeda, who consider Shi'ites to be apostates.

Violence has reached a level unseen since 2008, and there are fears Iraq may relapse into the kind of intense Sunni-Shi'ite bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007 and killed tens of thousands of people.