BAGHDAD (AP) -- An al-Qaida front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the two deadliest attacks on Shiites there since the U.S. military completed its withdrawal.
A statement by al-Qaida's Islamic State of Iraq Monday says "Sunni heroes of heroes" infiltrated Shiite processions with explosive vests, killing scores of "nonbelievers and Iranian agents" during Arbaeen commemorations, the most sacred times for Shiite Muslims.
The largest of the Arbaeen attacks al-Qaida claimed was the Jan. 5 wave of apparently coordinated bombings in Baghdad and outside the southern city of Nasiriyah that killed 78 people.
At least 53 pilgrims were killed nine days later in a blast near the southern city of Basra.
Attacks in Iraq have surged since the U.S. troops left in December.