A car bomb ripped through a crowd of Shi'ite pilgrims in central Iraq today, killing at least 20 and injuring over 50.
The explosion in the town of Musayyib, around 40 miles south of Baghdad, targeted worshippers on their way back from the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala, where they had marked the Arbaeen religious festival.
Police said children were among the dead. Bomb attacks on non-Sunni Muslims are a routine tactic of the al-Qaida terror group, which established itself in Iraq following the US-British invasion in 2003.
They have since been taken up by other militant Islamist groups in the Middle East, such as the al-Nusra Brigades fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Iraqi officials said the latest bombing was part of a campaign to revive sectarian civil war across the country.
Recent weeks have seen waves of protests by Sunnis who say that the Nouri al-Maliki government discriminates against them.
Demonstrations erupted in late December following the arrest of Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi's bodyguards. Mr Issawi is one of the most senior Sunnis in government.
n Justice Ministry spokesman Haider al-Saadi sought to meet a key demand of Sunni protesters today by promising that 11 women prisoners would be released "soon" so long as their relatives pay bail to secure their freedom.
Mr Saadi said another 13 women prisoners in Baghdad would be transferred to jails in their home provinces.