UPDATE 1-Car bomb kills seven foreign Shi'ite pilgrims in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Nov 17 (Reuters) - At least seven Shi'ite Muslim

pilgrims from Iran and Pakistan were killed in Iraq on Saturday

when a car bomb went off by a restaurant in a city north of the

capital, police and hospital sources said.

The attack took place a few days into the holy month of

Ashura, which is of special significance to Shi'ite Muslims, who

are targeted by al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate and other Sunni

Islamist insurgents.

Police said a parked car blew up near a restaurant on the

outskirts of Balad, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, killing

the pilgrims, who were travelling back to the capital from the

Shi'ite holy city of Samarra.

A further 25 people were wounded in the blast, medics said.

Almost one year after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, al

Qaeda's local wing has vowed to revive attacks against the

country's Shi'ites in an attempt to reignite the kind of

sectarian violence that drove the country to the edge of civil

war four years ago.

Attacks against Shi'ites have often increased during Ashura,

when Shi'ites commemorate the death of the Prophet's grandson

Imam Hussein.

(Reporting by Gazwan Hassan; Writing by Suadad al-Salhy;

Editing by Andrew Heavens)