BAGHDAD  - At least seven Shia Muslims from Iran and Pakistan were killed in Iraq on Saturday when a car bomb went off by a restaurant in a city north of the capital, police and hospital sources said.

Police said a parked car blew up near a restaurant on the outskirts of Balad, 80 km north of Baghdad, killing the people, who were travelling back to the capital from Samarra. A further 25 people were wounded in the blast, medics said. Almost one year after the last US troops left Iraq, al Qaeda’s local wing has vowed to revive attacks against the country’s Shias in an attempt to reignite the kind of sectarian violence that drove the country to the edge of civil war four years ago.

Attacks against Shias have often increased during Ashura, when they commemorate the death of the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) grandson Imam Hussain (RA).