Reporting from Baghdad — A car bomb exploded Friday near a mosque in southern Iraq as mourners gathered for the funeral of a tribal sheik, killing at least 17 people and wounding 70, Iraqi officials said.
The blast took place at 5 p.m. in a town outside Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, as the mourners gathered in a hall near the mosque. The explosion set cars ablaze and damaged several nearby buildings.
Many local officials, including the chief of provincial council, his deputy and some judges, were at the ceremony but were not among the dead or injured.
Sheik Mohammed Murshidi, a local leader, said the shrine was considered "one of the safest places in the area. … No incidents had happened before."
But insurgents have struck elsewhere in Babil province in recent weeks. On Sept. 14, a car bomb exploded in nearby Madhatiya outside a restaurant where police officers were dining, killing a dozen people and wounding 43. Two days later, a car bomb injured eight people during an attack on a motorcade carrying Babil's governor while he was seeking to reconcile two local tribes.
Hillah is a mainly Shiite Muslim city along the route pilgrims take to the holy city of Najaf.
Eskandar Witwit, chairman of the security committee in Iraq's parliament, complained that security forces were not showing themselves to be as adaptable in preventing attacks as insurgents were in carrying them out.
"The terrorists target everything: mosques, schools, innocent people," he said. "Terrorists are changing their strategy from time to time, but our security forces are not."
Salman is a special correspondent.