Bombings in and near Baghdad killed 10 Shia pilgrims on Tuesday as they were making their way on foot to a holy city in southern Iraq, officials said.

In the deadlier of the two attacks, a suicide bomber set off his explosive belt among a group of pilgrims south of Baghdad, near the town of Mahmoudiya. That attack killed six people and wounded 16, police officials said.

The pilgrims were headed to the city of Karbala, 90 kilometres to the south, to commemorate Arbaeen, the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, a revered Shia figure.

About two hours earlier, a bomb blast struck another group of Shia pilgrims in Baghdad, also on their way to Karbala. That bombing, in the southeastern neighbourhood of New Baghdad, killed four people and wounded 11, the police officials said.

Mideast Iraq

An Iraqi man inspects a minibus damaged in a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday. (Karim Kadim/Associated Press)

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims make their way every year to Karbala for Arbaeen. Al-Qaeda and other Sunni Muslim insurgents frequently target the Shias, whom they consider to be infidel. Also, the Shia marches to holy cities are typically poorly protected by Iraqi security forces.

Tuesday's bombings came a day after two separate attacks on Shia pilgrims in Iraq killed 34 people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attacks were the latest in a wave of violence that has roiled Iraq since a security crackdown in April on a protest camp in a northern Sunni town.