A car bomb ripped through two tour buses in the Iraqi city of Najaf
Saturday, killing four and wounding more than 50 others just one day
before Iraqis go to the polls for a critical national election.
Iraqi officials said the attack took place near the Imam Ali shrine --
a site visited by millions of Shi'ite pilgrims from Iraq and Iran every
Officials said the four dead were Iranian tourists. Earlier, officials said the blast killed two Iranians and one Iraqi.
The blast follows Friday's warning from an al-Qaida-affiliated group,
the Islamic State of Iraq, saying that anyone who decides to vote will
Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police officers are already patrolling the streets of Iraqi cities.
Security has also been increased along Iraq's borders with Iran and
Syria. And one border crossing, from the southern Iraqi city of Basra
to Iran, has already been locked down.
Security officials also say they will bar vehicles from the roads for
Sunday's election. The country's airports will also be shut down.
Despite increased security measures during the past few days, bombings
near Baghdad polling stations killed at least 15 people Thursday.
Iraqi religious leaders have been urging their followers to vote in the
election, with some telling worshippers voting is their religious duty.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called on all Iraqis
to head to the polls Sunday. He said a strong voter mandate will be a
powerful message in support of stability and prosperity for the Iraqi
The nationwide poll is widely seen as a test of Iraq's ability to maintain security and conduct a smooth transition of power.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday any
election-related violence or political turmoil would not impact U.S.
plans to pull out of Iraq.