On Friday a female suicide bomber blew herself up in a crowd of Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims on a pilgrimage to a Shiite holy city south of Baghdad on Friday, killing 40 people and injuring 69 others.

This marks the deadliest attack in Iraq this year and the third straight day of bombings against Shiite pilgrims. Yesterday a bomb killed eight in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala, to which hundreds of thousands if not millions were headed to mark Arbain.

Arbain has been a frequent target of suspected Sunni Islamist bombers since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It marks the end of an annual mourning period for the death in battle of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein in the seventh century.

The tent where the bomber detonated her explosives was located on a route to Karbala, where hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims will converge for an important religious ceremony on Monday, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the associated Press reported.

On route to Karbala there are tents on the way to rest and get drinks and food. There are also separate tents for men and woman. The bomber detonated her explosives among the women in the tent.

According to a medical official, Mohammed Abbas, most of the dead and wounded from the attack were women and children, the AP reported.

Approximately 40,000 Iraqi troops have been deployed along major routes to Karbala, and officials say security cameras have been installed near the Imam Hussein shrine to keep a lookout for possible threats.

In the past year the number of female suicide bombers in Iraq has been growing. In 2008, 32 attacks were carried out compared to only 8 in 2007, according to U.S. military figures, the AP reported.