Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Stampede during Ashoura ritual leaves dozens dead

Stampede during Ashoura ritual leaves dozens dead

During the past 10 days, up to 4 million Shiite pilgrims arrived in Karbala from other Iraqi provinces and outside Iraq to perform the major ritual of Ashura, according to figures announced by the al-Furat al-Awsat Operations Command.

The death toll released by the Iraqi Health Ministry was expected to rise, with at least nine people still in critical condition.

Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims take part in a mourning procession on the tenth day of the lunar month of Muharram which marks the day of Ashoura on Tuesday, September 10.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims are in the city for the Ashoura procession to mark the death of revered Imam Hussein.

The day of Ashura, which falls on the 10th of Muharram, commemorates the killing of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussain by a rival Muslim faction in Karbala, in present-day Iraq, in 680 AD.

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Packed processions of black-clad worshippers made their way to his gold-domed shrine in Karbala before the stampede, carrying black flags with "Hussein" written in red while weeping and beating their chests in mourning. "It was a stampede that led to this incident", he said.

Others - even young boys - cut incisions into their foreheads with scalpels or large sabres, leaving streams of blood cascading down their faces.

Similar ceremonies took place in Baghdad, in the southern city of Basra and in Iraq's second holy city Najaf, where the Prophet Mohammed's son-in-law Ali is buried.

The following year, 2005, during a different religious holiday, rumors of a suicide bomber caused a mass stampede on a Baghdad bridge crossing the Tigris River.

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