BAGHDAD (AP) — A walkway collapsed and set off a stampede within the holy metropolis of Karbala on Tuesday as 1000’s of Shiite Muslims marked probably the most solemn holy days of the 12 months. Not less than 31 individuals had been killed and about 100 had been injured, officers mentioned.
It was the deadliest stampede in current historical past throughout Ashoura commemorations, when a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals converge on town, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, for the event yearly.
The stampede occurred towards the top of the Ashoura procession, inflicting a panicked rush amongst worshippers close to the gold-domed Imam Hussein shrine, in line with two officers who spoke to The Related Press from Karbala.
Afdhal al-Shami, a shrine official, denied that there was a collapse or any cracks within the walkway. “It was a stampede that led to this incident,” he mentioned.
Mohammed Shenin Jebir, a pilgrim, mentioned every little thing occurred very immediately.
“Guests immediately fell on the bottom and there was a powerful stampede, there have been many pilgrims who all fell on high of one another,” he mentioned, talking after being handled on the Hussein Medical Metropolis in Karbala for cuts and bruises above his proper eye.
The somber day of Ashoura commemorates the killing of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, the Imam Hussein, by a rival Muslim faction in Karbala in what’s now Iraq, in 680 A.D. Hussein and his descendants are seen by Shiites because the rightful heirs to the prophet. Hussein’s killing has been attributed with cementing the schism between Shiite and Sunni Islam.
Lately, Ashoura processions have been attacked by extremist Sunni militants. In 2004, on the top of Iraq’s sectarian violence, 143 individuals had been killed in close to simultaneous suicide and different bombings at shrines in Baghdad and Karbala throughout the Ashoura procession.
In 2005, rumors of a suicide bomber amongst worshippers crossing a bridge throughout a unique spiritual vacation induced an enormous stampede killing greater than 950 individuals, lots of whom jumped, of their panic, into the Tigris River.
Tuesday’s commemorations had been peaceable till the walkway collapsed, triggering the chaos.
The officers mentioned the stampede occurred throughout the so-called “Tweireej” run, when tens of 1000’s of individuals run towards the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala round midday.
The two-Three kilometer (1-2 mile) run symbolizes when the maternal cousins of Imam Hussein’s half-brother al-Abbas ran from the close by village of Tweireej to rescue him, solely to seek out out that he had been killed.
The officers — one in every of them on the Imam Hussein shrine and the opposite a safety official — spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to talk to the press.
Not less than 10 among the many injured pilgrims had been in important situation, in line with the officers.
No Iraqi media instantly launched pictures of the walkway collapse or ensuing stampede.
“We lament this tragic lack of life and need these injured a swift and full restoration,” U.S. Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller mentioned, providing his condolences to the households of the victims on behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
The president and prime minister additionally supplied their condolences and mentioned they had been following investigations into the incident.
Earlier within the day, a whole lot of 1000’s of black-clad pilgrims held Ashoura processions amid beefed-up safety in Karbala and within the capital, Baghdad, marching by means of the streets. Lots of the devoted beat their chests and lashed themselves with chains in a symbolic expression of grief and remorse for not with the ability to assist Hussein earlier than his martyrdom.
On Sunday night time, 1000’s marched towards the holy shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which had been lit up on the eve of the celebration.
This 12 months’s commemoration comes amid rising tensions within the Center East and the disaster between Iran and the U.S. and its ally Israel within the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Israel has lately expanded its warfare on Iran and its allies within the area, and is believed to have struck targets as far out as Iraq in current weeks, drawing outrage and pledges of retaliation.
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