Iraq car bomb kills 3 in Najaf


A car bomb exploded in the Shiite holy city of Najaf early Saturday, killing three people and wounding 54 others on the eve of Iraq’s national elections, police said.

The car detonated in a parking lot used by religious pilgrims, about 900 feet from the Imam Ali shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. The attack was almost certainly aimed at igniting sectarian passions among the country’s Shiite majority population 24 hours before voting commences.

The attack killed two Iranians and one Iraqi and left 19 Iranians among the wounded in the lot, where an Iranian tour bus had parked, police said.

The country is on lockdown for Sunday’s elections. Iraqi authorities had already sealed provincial borders across the country Saturday, and a vehicle curfew for cities will be imposed Sunday.

The national vote for the next four-year parliament finds Iraqis choosing between secular and religious politicians and hoping to close the door on a return to the sectarian war that erupted across the country after the 2005 elections.

Fakhrildeen is a special correspondent.

Times staff writers Ned Parker and Raheem Salman contributed to this report.