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Car bombing in Shiite holy city of Najaf kills 3 on election eve

Sunday, March 7, 2010; A12

BAGHDAD -- A car bomb exploded near tour buses carrying pilgrims in the holy city of Najaf on Saturday, killing at least three people and wounding 54 on the eve of Iraq's elections.

The bomb detonated about 8:30 a.m. in a parking lot near the Safi al-Safa shrine, where a revered figure in Shiite Islam is buried. Most of the dead and wounded were Iranian pilgrims, health and security officials said.

"We think it is a political targeting of Najaf province," said Adnan al-Zurfi, governor of the southern province. "During each election, Najaf is a top province that has almost full participation. . . . This targeting aims to scare people."

Iraqi security officials were on high alert for any kind of violence, which could keep voters at home or kill scores as they wait to cast ballots.

-- Leila Fadel and Saad Sarhan

Fadel reported from Baghdad. Sarhan, a special correspondent, reported from Najaf.

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