Published: Wed, September 11, 2019

Iraqi pilgrims die in stampede during Ashoura

Iraqi pilgrims die in stampede during Ashoura

A Shiite Muslim mourns while actors re-enact the battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century during which Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and 72 of his companions were killed, in Ashoura commemoration in downtown Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.

The shrine stands around 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, said spokesman Saif al-Badr, stressing that the toll was not final among those who were there to mark the holy day of Ashura.

The annual pilgrimage marking the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Hussein in battle in 680 draws hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims to Kerbala from around the world.

Earlier, processions of black-clad worshippers made their way to Hussein's gold-domed shrine in Karbala, carrying black flags with "Hussein" written in red and wailing loudly.

Hussein's martyrdom was a key event in the unfolding schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The incident occurred when a walkway collapsed, causing panic and a stampede.

In 2004, more than 140 people were killed in a series of near-simultaneous bombings at shrines in Karbala and Baghdad during Ashura.

In recent years, Ashoura processions have been attacked by extremist Sunni militants.

The following year, at least 965 pilgrims were killed in a stampede on a bridge over the River Tigris in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, during a different Shia holy day. Another official told the AP that there had been no collapse or crack in the walkway near the shrine. Numerous faithful beat their chests and lashed themselves with chains in a symbolic expression of grief and regret for not being able to help Hussein before his martyrdom.

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