The bomber still managed to kill five people and wound 10 on Wednesday in the town of Khales, near Baghdad, but the number of dead would probably have been higher if 34-year-old Ayyub Khalaf hadn't sacrificed himself by grabbing the militant, AFP reports.
"He was a brave man who loved his country and sacrificed himself for it," a police colleague of Khalaf's told AFP. "I am proud of him."
Many Shiites are on the road these days, making the pilgrimage to the Iraqi city of Karbala to observe Arba'een, which commemorates the death of the prophet Muhammad's grandson.
Many Iraqis have died in rising violence in recent months. In December alone, 580 civilians have been killed, according to IraqBodyCount, which documents violent attacks by cross-checking media reports with official figures. This year, the organization says, as many as 9,000 civilians have lost their lives to violence across the country.