A car bomb killed four Iranian pilgrims near Iraq's holiest Shi'ite shrine on Saturday, a day before a parliamentary election that Sunni Islamist insurgents have vowed to wreck.
Sunday's election is a test for Iraq's young democracy, and will help decide whether the country can avoid relapsing into violence as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2011, Reuters informs.
Iraqi security officials are on high alert the day before the election, hoping to avert violence that may frighten voters away from the polls or kill scores as they wait to caste their ballots. On Saturday night, a vehicle curfew will be imposed to protect voters walking to the polls.
The bombing is a reminder of the tenuous security situation that Iraqis face as they take to the polls on Sunday, Washington Post reports.
According to Fars News Agency, Local officials announced that the blast occurred 500m away from Imam Ali's shrine in Najaf.
Meantime, Salim Nema, a Najaf health official, said the attack wounded 54 people, including 17 Iraqis and 37 Iranians.
At least 49 people have been killed in the last few days of campaigning, some of them soldiers and police voting early.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea