Sunday, 22 September, 2019

More than 30 dead in stampede at Iraqi Shiite shrine

Baghdad At Least 31 Die Amidst Stampede At Ashura Rituals Karbala stampede kills 16 pilgrims
Patty Aguilar | 11 September, 2019, 05:32

Iraqi Shiites take part in a mourning procession in the holy city of Karbala on September 10, 2019, to mark Ashura, which commemorates the 7th-century killing of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

The ministry did not disclose how they had been killed but shrine officials told Reuters the stampede took place towards the end of the procession, when thousands of pilgrims rushed towards the shrine during what is known as the Tuwairij run.

A health ministry spokesman said another 100 people were injured and warned that the death toll could rise.

In the "Tuwairij run" thousands of pilgrims symbolically re-trace the steps of the maternal cousins of Imam Hussein's half-brother al-Abbas who ran from the ancient village of Tuwairij to Karbala to aid the imam in the 7 century battle.

The day of Ashura, which falls on the 10th of Muharram, commemorates the killing of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussain by a rival Muslim faction in Karbala, in present-day Iraq, in 680 AD.

Karbala stampede kills 16 pilgrims

Hussein's martyrdom was a key event in the unfolding schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims. In recent years, Ashoura processions have been attacked by extremist Sunni militants but Tuesday's commemorations were peaceful until the walkway collapsed.

The following year, 2005, during a different religious holiday, rumors of a suicide bomber caused a mass stampede on a Baghdad bridge crossing the Tigris River.

At least 10 among the injured pilgrims were in critical condition, according to the officials.

On Sunday night, thousands marched toward the holy shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which had been lit up on the eve of the celebration.

Now, the day is a national holiday, with streets across the country shuttered to allow for elaborate re-enactments of the Battle of Karbala.

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