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5 Iranian Pilgrims Killed by Gunmen in Iraq


Iraqi police say unidentified gunmen killed five Iranian pilgrims and wounded more than 30 others Wednesday as they journeyed to Shi'ite holy sites in Iraq.

Police said gunmen opened fire on buses traveling near the city of Baquba, on a highway that connects Iran to Baghdad.

Iranian state-run media put the death toll higher, with six dead in the attack. Iranian media also report an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hassan Qashqavi, condemned the violence, which he said stems from the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. He also criticized Baghdad for not ensuring the safety of Iranian nationals.

Iraqi Interior Ministry forces have been protecting pilgrim buses after an April attack at a roadside restaurant killed 57 people. Most of those victims were Iranian pilgrims.

In other violence, the U.S. military Wednesday said U.S. troops killed two insurgents when they attacked a military convoy with hand grenades and guns Tuesday, in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad. The military says one bystander was also killed in the violence.

Tuesday was a deadly day in and around the capital. At least 15 people were killed and more than 100 others wounded in a series of bombings there. Three of those blasts occurred in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Sadr City.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman General Abdul Karim Khalaf told VOA that Iraqi forces can handle their security duties without the assistance of the U.S. combat troops that withdrew from the cities on June 30.

There have been multiple deadly attacks in Iraqi cities in the weeks leading up to, and following, the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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