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Mourners flock to Karbala amid heightened security

1 December 2015 16:35



Pilgrims from 60 different countries are descending on the holy city of Karbala in central Iraq, where they intend to mark Arba’een, the fortieth day to follow the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and the third Shia Imam.

The occasion is to be marked on Thursday amid strict security measures employed around the site of the morning ceremonies.

Speaking from the holy city, Press TV correspondent Altaf Ahmad said on Tuesday, “Security is very tight. Some 35,000 security personnel have been deployed on the ground inside the city of Karbala and on its borders.”

Iraqi police monitor the movement of pilgrims on a main road in the capital, Baghdad, as tens of thousands of Shia Muslims head on foot toward the holy city of Karbala, December 1, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

“They have cordoned off Karbala, cutting off all the routes leading to the city because, as we know, the terrorist group Daesh has time and again threatened Iraq’s mausoleums,” she said.

Since June 2014, Iraq has been ravaged by terrorist attacks led by the Takfiri group, which has overrun parts of the country and is tyrannizing the civilian population there.

Ahmad also said helicopters were flying over the pilgrims as well as loitering over the 80-kilometer (49-mile)-long route connecting Karbala to Najaf, another holy city. “This route is the main route that the pilgrims use to flow on.”

The correspondent said pilgrims were chanting anti-sedition slogans encouraging unity among Muslims as well as slogans expressing enmity toward the terrorist group.

“The gains scored by the Iraqi forces on different fronts seem to have encouraged a lot of these pilgrims to come here.”

The Shia Imam and 72 of his companions were martyred back in the seventh century at the hands of the despot of the time, Yazid I, an Umayyad caliph, to whom they had refused to pledge allegiance.

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