19 dead in Iraq as pilgrims, family targeted: officials

SAMARRA: Militants have attacked a bus carrying pilgrims north of Baghdad, killing 11 people, while a family of eight was shot dead south of the capital, Iraqi officials said Sunday.

The bloodshed late Saturday comes during vote counting from the April 30 general election, the first since US troops withdrew in late 2011, and amid a protracted surge in nationwide unrest.

While officials are quick to blame external factors for the violence, analysts and diplomats say widespread anger among minority is also a key cause.

In the deadliest attack, a bombing and shooting targeting the bus of pilgrims killed 11 people and wounded 21, police and a doctor said.

The pilgrims were returning from Samarra north of the capital, when a roadside bomb blast on the outskirts of the town of Balad was followed by gunmen opening fire on the bus.

Also on Saturday evening, police found the bodies of eight family members shot dead inside their home in southeast of Baghdad.

It was unclear why the family had been targeted or who killed them.