Undeterred By Bombs, Millions Head to Karbala

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KARBALA: Millions of Shia Muslims were heading to the city of Karbala in Iraq on Wednesday to commemorate the holy day of Arba’een (“the fortieth [day]”) in one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings on Earth, in which over 16 million Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of (Imam) Hussein bin Ali.

Over 16 million pilgrims are expected to attend concluding ceremony in Karbala on Arbaeen), deputy head of Karbala provincial council said.

Nasim Jassem Al-Khatabi noted that this year Karbala will see the largest number of pilgrims visiting the city during Arbaeen ever.

Arbaeen marks the anniversary of the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and his devoted companions in Karbala.

Al-Khatabi said the holy city is prepared to host the pilgrims and its hotels have been prepared for serving the guests.

It is expected that 6, 50,000 of the pilgrims will be from other countries, especially Arab and Muslim states, he stated.

The official added some of the pilgrims began travelling to the holy city on foot since three weeks ago.

Blasts Kill Many Pilgrims

Several pilgrims have been killed and injured in a bomb explosion that hit Iraq’s central city of Babil, Press TV reported.

The incident took place on Wednesday after a car bomb exploded in the city, with reports saying many people were also injured. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that targeted Shia Muslims heading to the holy city of Karbala to commemorate the Arbaeen.

Millions of Shia pilgrims from all over the world are gradually arriving in the holy city, located 80 kilometers south of Baghdad to commemorate the 40th day after the martyrdom. 

Scores of people have been killed in recent weeks across Iraq in attacks targeting pilgrims as they embark on the traditional walk to Karbala for the commemoration event, which will be held on Thursday. 

On December 31, at least 23 people, including children, were killed and 80 others injured in a fresh wave of attacks in several cities and towns in Iraq. 

On December 24, at least 48 people were killed and over 110 others wounded in similar attacks targeting both security guards and pilgrims, marking the deadliest day in Iraq since November 29, when at least 50 people lost their lives.

The Iraqi government has stepped up efforts to increase security across the country over the past few months. 

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