Series of attacks target Shia worshippers

A series of bomb attacks mainly targeting Shia worshippers killed 58 people on Friday, including 25 near the main Baghdad office of an anti-U.S. Shia cleric, said officials.

The violence demonstrated militants remain a potent force days after Iraqi authorities announced the killing of the top two Al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders in what they described as a major blow. Extremists are also seeking to exploit political deadlock after the inconclusive March 7 parliamentary election and ignite sectarian warfare as U.S. forces prepare to go home.

The biggest of Friday's bombings took place just a few hundred yards from the compound of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad's vast slum of Sadr City as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.

Two car bombs and a roadside bomb exploded around 1:30 p.m., killing 25 people and wounding an estimated 150, according to hospital and police officials.

The blasts left blood streaming down muddy streets. Men carried victims away using bed sheets as makeshift stretchers and loaded them into the backs of trucks and rushed them to the hospital. One man fled carrying a young girl whose pink dress was stained with blood.

Many who gathered at the scene pelted Iraqi security officials with stones when they arrived in the area, frustrated with their apparent inability to secure the city. Security officials fired in the air to disperse the crowd.

Bombings elsewhere in Iraq — most of them targeting Shia worshippers — killed 33 other people in one of the deadliest days the country has seen in weeks.

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