Homicide Bomber Kills 30 in Cafe North of Baghdad

A homicide bomber killed more than 30 people Wednesday in a cafe northeast of Baghdad, and three American soldiers died when a roadside bomb exploded northwest of the capital, authorities said.

The bomber blew himself up in a restaurant in Balad Ruz, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, a police officer said on condition of anonymity. Dozens were wounded, he said.

The U.S. soldiers were killed by the roadside bomb as they patrolled a well-traveled route northwest of Baghdad to clear it of explosives, the military said. Nine soldiers died in two separate attacks on Monday — the deadliest single day for Americans in Iraq in nearly a month.

Attacks on Shiite pilgrims showed no sign of easing, with at least 11 slain as they streamed toward a Muslim shrine ahead of a weekend holiday.

Meanwhile, mourners carried coffins through Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, where two bombers exploded themselves Tuesday among pilgrims lining up at a checkpoint, killing at least 120 people.

The Hillah bombings and other attacks on Shiites have been blamed on Sunni insurgents, trying to destabilize Iraq's Shiite-dominated government.

The victims had been headed to Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, for weekend rites marking the end of a 40-day mourning period for the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Hussein died near Karbala in a 7th century battle.

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Abbas Ghatie Ali, a 32-year-old pilgrim walking from Baghdad to Karbala on Wednesday, tied a list of emergency contacts around his neck in case he was hurt along the way.

"I'm wearing this card to identify me if I'm killed during the journey to Karbala," Ali said. He said he would continue to walk despite attacks on fellow pilgrims, because Shiites are "the majority and will defend our ideology and doctrine."

Another traveler, Khadija Tawfek Mouhsin, said his brother was killed last year en route to Karbala, but that he was determined to make the journey. "The terrorists give us the chance to go to paradise," the 39-year-old Shiite pilgrim said.

Community leaders in Karbala met to discuss how to better provide security for the pilgrims, according to a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office. Iraq's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it would deploy soldiers along the pilgrimage route.

"All the city's entrances have been secured, and I call upon the pilgrims to follow the instructions of the security forces and let them do the necessary searches," Iraq's minister of state for national security, Sherwan al-Waili, told reporters in Karbala.

"Terrorists are adapting and improvising new ways of hurting people. Preparations have been made in hospitals to receive emergency cases," he said.

Karbala's governor, Aqeel al-Khazalie, said 10,000 policeman were deployed in the city.

The head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, condemned the Hillah bombings in a statement issued Wednesday and called for more government security during the upcoming holiday.

"We call on the security services of the central government and the local authorities ... to chase the masterminds who carry out these ugly crimes," al-Hakim said.

Al-Maliki issued a statement a day earlier, calling the Hillah bombings an "ugly crime against unarmed citizens" that "would not pass without punishment."

But some Shiite leaders have expressed anger at the government in the wake of the killings.

"The government bears some responsibility for this," complained a Shiite parliament member, Bahaa al-Araji. "It has not provided enough security to protect the pilgrims."

In the past two years, the powerful Mahdi Army militia watched over pilgrimages to Karbala. But the group agreed to put down its arms under intense pressure from the government, which wanted to avoid any confrontations with U.S.-led forces during a Baghdad security crackdown launched last month.

"This year, things are sadly different," said al-Araji.

The biggest attack on pilgrims Wednesday occurred in Dora, a mostly Sunni neighborhood of southern Baghdad, where a roadside bomb killed at least seven people, police said. Immediately after the blast, gunmen moved in and fired on the victims. About 14 were wounded, they said.

Hours later, pilgrims continued to stream through the neighborhood, stepping over spent ammunition that littered a main thoroughfare.

Gunmen also opened fire on Shiite pilgrims on a bridge in southeastern Baghdad, killing three and wounding five, police said. Another shooting left one pilgrim dead and four wounded in central Baghdad, police said.

Complete coverage is available in FOXNews.com's Iraq Center.