A car bomb that exploded outside a restaurant in a southern Iraqi town Thursday evening killed a 5-year-old girl and her father, who were among a group of Shiite pilgrims from Baghdad, officials said.
Twenty other people were wounded in the 7 p.m. blast near a Shiite mosque in the city of Iskandariyah, said Dr. Amal Ali, chairwoman of the Babil provincial council health committee that governs the area. Iskandariyah is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
Ali said the pilgrims were from Baghdad and were walking through Iskandariyah on their way to Friday prayers in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, another 25 miles (40 kilometers) south.
Another provincial counselor, Mansour al-Mani, confirmed the deaths and said two police were among the wounded.
Ali said seven of the most severely wounded were rushed to the hospital in the town of Hillah, another half-hour drive south, while 13 were treated at Iskandariyah's hospital. She spoke to The Associated Press after being briefed by medics at Hillah's hospital.
Shiite mosques have been a frequent target for Sunni insurgents looking to revive sectarian violence in Iraq as U.S. forces prepare to leave by the end of the year.
Earlier Thursday, Iraqi parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi rapped the government for failing to tell lawmakers how many U.S. troops might need to stay in the country beyond the planned withdrawal at the end of the year.
At a news conference, al-Nujaifi said the government has not even briefed the parliament about the ability of Iraq's forces to protect the country.
His remarks indicated how little progress has been made on a top political issue facing Iraq just months before the final withdrawal.
Al-Nujaifi is the highest-ranking Sunni politician in Iraq. He is trying to broker agreement between Shiites and Kurds on a host of issues slowing the government, including the matter of U.S. troops.
Iraq's government is weighing whether to request that some U.S. troops should stay to help train its security forces.