Shrine visits prove fatal to Iranians
A total of 110 Iranians have died on unauthorised visits to holy sites in Iraq in the last 45 days.
In the last 24 hours 21 bodies have arrived at Islam’s Institute for Forensic Medicine, the head of the Institute, Javad Salari, was quoted by Iranian state television as saying on Sunday.
The main causes of death were stepping on mines, falls and heat strokes, said Salari.
Since Washington launched war against Iraq, Tehran has barred its citizens from visiting the two mainly Shia cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq.
The first leader of the Shia, Ali and his son and successor Hussein, are buried in Najaf and Karbala respectively.
Earlier this month Iranian border guard officials said about 42,000 people had been turned back trying to cross the border, while 194 were arrested and faced prosecution.
Thousands are still trying to make their own way in defiance of the ban, or are having recourse to traffickers.
Thousands of Iraqi refugees, many of whom fled to Iran during ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s repression of the uprising by Iraqi Shia in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, have also been trying to return home in recent weeks.
The Iran-Iraq border area remains heavily mined due to the 1980 to 1988 war between the two countries.