Middle East

Twin car bomb in Iraq kills 20

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Two car bombs have exploded near the southern Iraqi city of Karbala, killing at least 20 people, officials say.

The bombs went off on the road from the city of Najaf, which is often used by Shia pilgrims travelling to shrines.

Dozens of people were wounded in the blast, hospital officials told reporters.

Iraq has been without a government since elections in March and it is feared that insurgents are exploiting the power vacuum.

Hundreds have been killed in attacks by insurgents since the election.

Level of violence

The blasts come as Shia pilgrims from around the country gather in Karbala to celebrate the birthday of the 9th century Imam Muhammad al-Mehdi.

Elsewhere in Iraq, four people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked the headquarters of Arabic TV station al-Arabiya in Baghdad.

The level of violence in Iraq has decreased since 2006 and 2007 when Sunnis and Shias fought a bloody sectarian conflict, says the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad.

But Shia pilgrims, who often travel to shrines by foot, are still targets for Sunni insurgents, adds our correspondent.

The US hopes to withdraw its 50,000 combat troops from Iraq by the end of August, ahead of a total withdrawal by 2012.