Suicide bomber in central Iraq kills at least 21

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SALAH AL-DIN: At least 21 people were killed on Saturday when a suicide bomber targeted pilgrims at a restaurant in central Iraq, local media reported.

The Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported that the suicide bomber targeted pilgrims of the Imam Hassan al-Askari shrine near the city of Samarra, in the Salah ad-Din Governorate. Samarra is about 125 kilometers (78 miles) north of Baghdad.

"Pilgrims of Imam Hassan al-Askari mausoleum were having lunch at Madayef Samarra restaurant, north of Samarra, when a suicide bomber with an explosive belt blew himself up inside the restaurant," a security source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

The pilgrims were making the trip to commemorate the death of Imam al-Askri, who died in 874 A.D and is buried at a mosque in the region.

Iraq has seen a rise in suicide attacks in recent weeks. On Thursday, a car bomb in northern Iraq killed nine civilians and injured 27 others. And in late January, at least 48 people were killed and 121 others were injured when a car bomb exploded at a funeral in Baghdad.

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