31 killed in stampede during Ashura commemoration – Ministry

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — At least 31 people were killed and dozens wounded Tuesday in a stampede during the commemoration of Ashura in the holy city of Karbala, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad.

The stampede was the first of its kind in the holy city of Karbala, which was the target of bombings and attacks by jihadists, which they considered their first target, before the improvement of security conditions in recent years.

The incident comes nearly two years after the Iraqi authorities declared “victory” against the Islamic State, reflecting a calm atmosphere in Karbala, which witnesses hundreds of thousands annually in commemoration of Ashura.

“Thirty-one people were killed and 100 injured, 10 of them seriously, in an untold death toll,” a health ministry spokesman said.

He added that “teams of the Ministry of Health mobilized their crews” after the incident.

Activists posted pictures after the incident of unconscious visitors on the ground as others tried to help them.

Since the beginning of last week, pilgrims have come from various Iraqi cities to Karbala, where the shrine of Imam Hussein and his brother Abbas to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the third of the 12 imams infalled by Shiites.

– Parades and slapping –

The morning hours saw sword beatings on the heads and breasts amid crowds of black-clad visitors, including women and children gathered around the Imam Hussein shrine.

Crowds of pilgrims gathered in the streets of Kerbala, the Old City and between the two holy shrines in preparation for the last ritual of Ashura, the “rush of Tuwayrij.”

The operation begins with the gathering of visitors at midday, at the northern entrance to Karbala, five kilometers from the shrine.

The participants then barefoot as they beat their heads with their hands, while a man wearing a black turban on a horse mediates them, heading to the shrine of Imam Hussein and then to the shrine of Imam Abbas shouting “Beck, Hussein.”

Tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims take part every year in recovering scenes of the “tuff incident” in which Imam Hussein was killed by the army of the Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Muawiya, along with most of his family in 680.

The visit to Karbala during Ashura is one of the holiest religious events for Shi’ites and is attended by hundreds of thousands over the first 10 days of the month of Muharram coming from different parts of Iraq.

Iraqi Interior Minister Yassin al-Yassiri arrived in Karbala on Monday to oversee security measures, preceded by Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari.

Al-Yasiri issued directives to the security forces to tighten measures around condolences and condolences and intensify security efforts to protect visitors.

In 2013, during the Ashura visit, visitors were subjected to a series of attacks that killed about 40 people.

In 2005, the visit of Imam Musa al-Kadhim witnessed a catastrophic stampede on the Imam Bridge, which claimed about 1,000 visitors.


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