Iraqi authorities say a suicide bomber has killed at least 35 people near one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest mosques in the southern city of Najaf.
Authorities said the bomber detonated his explosives Thursday when he was stopped at a security checkpoint in front of the Imam Ali Shrine. The mosque contains the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad's relative, Ali.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki denounced the bombing, which also injured more than 120 people. He blamed the attack on Sunni extremists and loyalists of ousted leader Saddam Hussein seeking to increase sectarian tensions.
The attack in Najaf was the deadliest attack in Iraq since a July 18 bombing in the southern Iraqi city of Kufa, when 53 people were killed in a suicide bombing.
In violence elsewhere in the country, at least 20 people were killed, including six from a bomb blast at a Baghdad restaurant.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved an extension of its mission in Iraq for one more year. The U.N. says it has about 400 personnel stationed throughout Iraq.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.