by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- A new wave of bomb attacks targeted Shiite pilgrims and security forces across Iraq killed 42 people and wounded 133 on Thursday, apparently in an attempt by insurgent groups to stir up sectarian strife among Iraqis.
The deadliest attack occurred in the day was in the city of Hilla, some 100 km south of the capital Baghdad, when a car bomb went off near a restaurant serving food for Shiite pilgrims.
A few minutes later, another car bomb detonated while civilians and Iraqi security forces gathered at the scene.
The two blasts killed a total of 26 people and wounded 80 others at a restaurant, according to the police and medical sources.
Meanwhile, another attack took place in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, when a booby-trapped car detonated near Shiite pilgrims at the eastern entrance of the city, killing eight people and wounding 22 others.
Iraqi security forces blocked the roads leading to central Karbala where the shrine of Imam Hussein, one of the Shiite's 12 most revered Imams.
Insurgent groups frequently carried out attacks against Shiite pilgrims who perform communal rituals, killing and wounding hundreds of them in attempts to provoke sectarian strife in the country.
In Iraq's western province of Anbar, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up among the soldiers and their vehicles who gathered to collect salaries for their unites at the branch of the government-owned al-Rasheed Bank in central the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad.
Three soldiers were killed and four wounded by the blast which also wounded two policemen who were guarding the bank, along with injuring four pedestrians.
Insurgent attacks continue in the once volatile Sunni Arab area west of Baghdad that stretches through Anbar province to Iraq's western borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
In northern Iraq, a car bomb struck a police patrol in al- Karama neighborhood eastern the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital, killing a policeman and wounding three others.
The blast also killed a civilian and wounded another, along with destroying a police vehicle and several nearby civilian cars.
Elsewhere, a fifth car bomb exploded in the afternoon near a restaurant in Basmaiyah area, just southeast of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 11 others, an Interior Ministry source anonymously told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, two roadside bomb explosions ripped through Taji area, some 20 km north of Baghdad, killing a civilian and injuring six others, the source said.
Such deadly attacks apparently are seen as an attempt by insurgent groups to stir up sectarian strife among Iraqis to push the country to the brink of civil war, amid persistent political divisions that have already paralyzed the country's government.
Observers see that Wednesday's attacks are part of an attempt by insurgent groups to show that they are capable of carrying out coordinated and high-profile attacks that could undermine the government's claims of providing security to Iraqis.
Violence and sporadic high profile attacks are still common in the country despite the dramatic decrease of violence over the past few years.