A female suicide bomber killed 32 people and wounded 84 others south of Baghdad on Friday when she blew herself up on a major Shi'ite religious pilgrimage route, police said.
The attack in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital, came a day after a bomb killed eight people in the southerly Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are heading to Kerbala to mark Arbain, one of the most important dates in the Shi'ite religious calendar.
The Arbain rite marks the end of a mourning period after the anniversary of the death in the seventh century of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein.
The attacks occurred despite heavy security on the pilgrimage route.
The Arbain rite, which culminates early Monday morning, is difficult to secure. Many pilgrims walk all the way to Kerbala, and are easy targets as they cover hundreds of km (miles) clutching religious banners.
Emergency services have been on high alert, and the public was asked to give blood in case of attacks.
"We have been on alert since last Saturday. From then till now I haven't been able to take even an hour to go and see my family. I have been sleeping in the ambulance," said emergency worker Ahmed Kadhom.
Kadhom said that after Thursday's attack, he saw a grief-stricken man carrying his dead young son.
"He was shouting and crying. I will never forget this scene," he said.