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Iraq tightens security at shrines after wave of attacks kills 150

IRAQ'S government ordered security tightened yesterday at major Shiite shrines across the country, a day after suicide bombers struck a revered Baghdad tomb in the single most deadly attack in the country in more than a year.

The increased security measures ordered by the Iraqi government follow two days of high-profile attacks that targeted primarily Shiite worshippers.

More than 150 people, many of them Iranian pilgrims, died in the attacks.

The increase in attacks in recent weeks has raised questions about the abilities of Iraq's security forces, and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Iraqi leaders yesterday in Baghdad to assure continued American support, even as it moves toward withdrawing its troops.

The number of dead in Friday's attack by two female suicide bombers at Baghdad's shrine of Imam Mousa al-Kazim reached 71, an Iraqi police official said.

A hospital official confirmed the toll, adding that 125 were also wounded, many Iranian pilgrims on their way to pray at the popular mosque.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered a military task force to investigate Friday's bombings. He also suspended the area commanders for failing to provide adequate security around the shrine.

The two blasts happened within minutes of each other at separate gates of the tomb shortly before the start of prayers as worshippers streamed into the mosque, said police.

Black banners bearing the names of the dead were hung yesterday at the attack sites.


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