Iraq

Mourners continue Ashura pilgrimage

Ashura_PilgrimsAmid tight security, huge crowds of mourners continue to reach the holy city of Karbala to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

Amid black flags, which drape walls and mourning sites throughout the city, are over 28,000 policemen, who have been deployed across Karbala, particularly in the Bain al-Haramain region, which lies between the two holy shrines of Imam Hussein (PBUH) and Hadhrat Abulfazl  (AS).

Motorbikes, cars, and carts pulled by animals are barred from the center of the city, while every pilgrim must undergo a personal search and pat-down to foil any possible terrorist attack.

Police have urged all citizens to fully cooperate with the security forces, remain vigilant and inform the authorities immediately upon discovery of any suspect element.

Security forces have also warned hotel owners against sheltering undocumented foreigners and Iraqis alike.

Muharram ceremonies in Iraq have been the target of numerous attacks over the past years. The deadliest took place in 2004 when near-simultaneous blasts in Baghdad and Karbala killed more than 170 people.

Two million people are expected to gather in Karbala by Thursday, which marks Ashura — the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram which marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and third Shia Imam,) which occurred in the year 680 CE (61 AH).

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