"Our latest reports said that 17 pilgrims were killed and 35 wounded, many were in critical condition, by the suicide bombing," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The attack occurred around noon when a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden vest among a procession of Shia pilgrims walking on a highway in Doura district in the southern part of Baghdad, the source said.
The pilgrims were heading to the holy Shia city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, to observe the Arbaeen religious ritual ahead of its climax day next Tuesday.
Arbaeen is the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson and the third holy figure for the Shia Muslim sect, who was killed in the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.
Insurgents frequently attack Shia pilgrims who perform communal rituals in the Iraqi cities, killing and wounding hundreds of them in attempts to provoke sectarian strife in the violence-shattered country.
Many Iraqis are worried about a resurgence of violence, ethnic and sectarian strife that nearly tore the country apart a few years ago.
Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, 8,109 Iraqis were killed in the country from January to November this year.
--IANS (Posted on 19-12-2013)