Pilgrims pour into Karbala
Karbala: Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims descended on Iraq’s holy shrine city of Karbala on Saturday for the climax of Ashura commemorations, despite fears of violent attacks by Sunni extremists.
Security forces have beefed up their presence in the central city and authorities are also checking on the 60,000-odd foreign worshippers expected to attend the ceremonies to ensure they do not have swine flu.
Black flags, representing the sadness of Shiites during Ashura, were seen all over the city, 110 kilometres south of Baghdad, along with pictures of Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas, who are both buried here.
“I came to show my belief in Imam Hussein — this event has nothing to do with personal motivations or politics,” said 40-year-old Mohammed Abdul Hussein, who travelled from Babil province.
Around 25,000 policemen and soldiers had been deployed to secure the commemoration ceremoniesfor Saturday and Sunday.