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BAGHDAD, IRAQ — More than 90 people were killed on Wednesday in a wave of bomb and shooting attacks which targeted Shiite Muslims across Iraq, local authorities said on Thursday.
Tens of thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims were marking the anniversary of the death of Imam Musa Kadhim, a great-grandson of the prophet Mohammad and a revered imam, when the series of coordinated attacks targeted the large crowds.
The first attack occurred in downtown Hilla, which is located around 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, when two car bombs detonated near a restaurant. Other attacks followed in Al-Azizyah, Baquba, Fallujah, Kirkuk, among other reported locations. In Baghdad, at least ten explosions killed over two dozen people.
By Thursday afternoon, the death toll had reached at least 93 while more than 300 others were said to have been injured.
The Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Martin Kobler, expressed his shock and dismay after the attacks. "The scale of the violence is disturbing – I urgently appeal to the government to address the root causes of the violence and terrorism that are causing so much suffering and pain to the Iraqi people," he said.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, during a periodic Cabinet-level meeting on Iraq, also condemned the violence and offered their condolences to the Iraqi people.
In the United Kingdom, Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt also expressed his shock. "I was appalled to hear of the bombings across Iraq which mainly targeted Shia pilgrims in Baghdad and elsewhere," he said. "I strongly condemn these cowardly attacks and offer my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and those injured."
Alistair also urged all political blocs in Iraq to work together and focus on bringing security and stability to the Middle Eastern country.
Earlier this month, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car outside the Shi'ite Endowment Department in the Bab al-Mu'dham District of central Baghdad, killing at least 25 people and injuring more than 150 others. The religious affairs office is in charge of operating Shi'ite mosques and religious properties in the country, which has witnessed a series of deadly attacks in recent months.
Although violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since its peak in 2006 and 2007, political turmoil and sectarian violence has been on the rise following the pullout of the last U.S. soldiers in mid-December 2011. At least 36 people were killed in mid-April when a series of bomb attacks hit cities and towns across the country.