Iraq has beefed up security measures amid fears of attacks by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists against Shia Muslims in Karbala commemorating the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH).
Authorities have deployed security personnel and volunteer forces to protect the pilgrims heading to the holy city, which is located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of the capital, Baghdad.
“The security plan is fully in effect and the security forces are on a state of high alert,” an Iraqi police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday.
Police have been deployed throughout Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad and security forces are guarding the 100-kilometer (60-mile) route from the capital to Karbala.
Iraqi Army Staff Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanimi said more than 26,000 members of the security forces have been stationed in Karbala, adding that army helicopters are also providing air support and monitoring desert areas.
Police are using X-ray trucks at the entrance to Karbala to scan vehicles, and sniffer dogs are checking arrivals. Some 1,500 policewomen have been also deployed to check female pilgrims.
On Sunday, over 30 Shia pilgrims lost their lives in a series of bomb attacks across Baghdad.
Iraqi officials usually blame similar terrorist attacks on Takfiri militants and former Ba’athists, who Baghdad says have formed an alliance to destabilize the country.
Baghdad has also pointed the finger at Saudi Arabia, saying Riyadh is funding terrorists operating in Iraq.