Iraq bomb blasts kill 40 as millions mark Ashura

Iraq bomb blasts kill 40 as millions mark Ashura
Thu Nov 14, 2013 17:59:18

Attacks against Shiites, including a suicide bombing that ripped through a religious procession, killed at least 40 people in Iraq Thursday despite massive security deployed for one of the holiest days of their faith.

The bloodshed came as a flood of worshippers, including tens of thousands of foreign pilgrims, thronged the central shrine city of Karbala for the climax of Ashura.

The suicide bomber struck in a Shiite-majority area of Diyala province, north of Baghdad, killing 31 people and wounding 65, security and medical officials said.

It was the third attack of the day to target Shiites.

Earlier, coordinated blasts in the town of Hafriyah, south of the capital, killed nine people, while twin bombings in the northern oil city of Kirkuk wounded five.

Shiites from Iraq and around the world mark Ashura, which this year climaxed on Thursday, by setting up procession tents where pilgrims gather and food is distributed to passers-by.

An estimated two million faithful gathered in Karbala, site of the mausoleum of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and 72 of his loyal companions, were martyred on Ashura in the battle of Karbala against the second Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, more than 14 centuries ago. Imam Hussein was martyred after he refused to pledge allegiance to the tyrant ruler.

The mourning services have been in place worldwide since the beginning of Muharram.

The annual Muharram ceremonies, which have been performed for many centuries, symbolize the eternal and unwavering stance of truth against falsehood and humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny and oppression, the cause for which Imam Hussein was martyred.

Provincial authorities expect two million pilgrims, including 200,000 from outside Iraq, will have visited Karbala in the 10 days leading up to Ashura, with all of the city's hotels fully booked.


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