A homicide bomber wearing an explosives belt blew himself up in a home for the elderly in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, killing two people and wounding three, police said.

The motive of the attack was unclear and an investigation was under way, police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaida said. The two killed were elderly woman, he said, adding that a woman also was among the three injured.

CountryWatch: Iraq

Tensions have been worsening in the Shiite-dominated area of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, where Britain has about 8,000 soldiers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared a state of emergency there late last month, but it has failed to quell the rampant violence as rival Shiite militias fight each other for power.