[QODLink]
Middle East
Shia pilgrims killed in Iraq blasts
Two explosions near the holy city of Karbala kill at least 18 people as pilgrims take part in Arbain religious ceremomy.
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2011 13:46 GMT
Heavy security was deployed ahead of the ceremony in Karbala [Reuters]

Two bomb blasts near Iraqi holy city of Karbala have killed at least 18 people and injured scores of others taking part in the annual Arbain religious ceremony.

The explosions came as hundreds of Shia pilgrims gathered for religious rituals marking the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.

The first bomb exploded in a car park on the outskirts of the city where some of the pilgrims had parked their vehicles.

A few hours later a second car bomb exploded about 10km north of the city.

The explosions occurred despite the deployment of 120,000 police and soldiers across the country for the ceremony. "It's difficult for us to control every inch of the province. There are waves of pilgrims," an army captain said.

Iraq has been rocked by a series of blasts in recent days ahead of the culmination on Tuesday of Arbain.

More than 100 pilgrims, police recruits and police have been killed in an area ranging from Karbala to mainly Sunni areas north of Baghdad, the capital.

Although violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since its high point three years ago, the country is still plagued by small-scale attacks that have kept the nation on edge and raised doubts about the capabilities of its security forces.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The new military government has issued warnings that it will soon start to clampdown on immigration offenders.
As Snowden awaits Russian visa renewal, the world mulls role of NSA and expects more revelations from document trove.
A handful of agencies that provide tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea say business is growing.
A political power struggle masquerading as religious strife grips Nigeria - with mixed-faith couples paying the price.
The current surge in undocumented child migrants from Central America has galvanized US anti-immigration groups.
join our mailing list