- Title: IRAQ: Iraqi Shi'ites march to holy shrine despite threats
- Date: 28th July 2008
- Summary: (BN10) BAGHDAD, IRAQ (JULY 28, 2008) (REUTERS- ACCESS ALL) SHI'ITE PILGRIMS WALKING TO THE SHRINE OF IMAM MOUSSA AL-KADHIM IN KADHIMIYA AREA WOMAN PILGRIMS WALKING TO THE SHRINE/ SOLDIERS SEARCHING PILGRIMS IN THE SCENE SOLDIERS SEARCHING BAGS OF WOMEN SHI'ITE PILGRIMS WALKING TO IMAM MOUSSA AL-KADHIM SHRINE SOLDIER SEARCHING TWO WOMEN (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) THAER ABID NOUR, A SHI'ITE PILGRIM SAYING: "We came from al-Aziziya area in al-Hafriya town. We intend to visit Moussa al-Kadhim with God willing. The blasts that happened today in Karrada and al-Sadoun will not defeat us. It will strengthen our insistence on performing this visit and defeat terrorism. With God willing, we will complete this visit." MORE OF SOLDIERS SEARCHING PILGRIMS PILGRIMS WALKING IN STREET MORE OF PILGRIMS WALKING TO IMAM MOUSSA AL-KADHIM SHRINE/ SOLDIERS SEARCHING PILGRIMS
- Embargoed: 12th August 2008 13:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Religion
- Reuters ID: LVAAAIDBZ1I5RZEEB0JTKG6MC0VW
- Story Text: Thousands of Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims march to the Shi'ite district of al-Kadhimiya to mark a religious event despite deadly blasts earlier in the day that have left at least 28 dead and 92 wounded.
Thousands of Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims marched on Monday (July 28) to the Shi'ite district of al-Kadhimiya to mark a religious event despite the deadly blasts that killed dozens of them earlier.
The Shi'ite pilgrims were walking on foot to the Shi'ite district of Kadhimiya of northwestern Baghdad to mark the death of the revered Shi'ite imam Moussa al-Kadhim.
Earlier, three female suicide bombers killed at least 28 people and wounded 92 in Baghdad as Shi'ite pilgrims flooded into the Iraqi capital for a major religious event, police said.
Thaer Abid Nour, a Shi'ite pilgrim said that Iraqi Shi'ites will carry on with their visit despite the blasts that took place in Baghdad.
"We came from al-Aziziya area in al-Hafriya town. We intend to visit Moussa al-Kadhim with God willing. The blasts that happened today in Karrada and al-Sadoun will not defeat us. It will strengthen our insistence on performing this visit and defeat terrorism. With God willing, we will complete this visit," he said.
Al Qaeda has increasingly used women to carry out suicide attacks because they can often evade the more stringent security checks applied to men.
At least a million people are expected to visit the Kadhamiya shrine in northwestern Baghdad for the pilgrimage, which peaks on Tuesday (July 28).
Iraqi security forces have clamped down on the area under tight security.
It was unclear if the victims were pilgrims, but the blasts were near the Karrada district in central Baghdad, an area many pilgrims pass through on their way to the shrine.
Gunmen killed seven pilgrims in southern Baghdad on Sunday (July 27) as they made their way to the shrine on foot.
Iraq has said it expected many more people to attend this year's pilgrimage, which marks the death of one of Shi'ite Islam's 12 imams, because of improved security.
Violence has fallen to four-year lows, with Sunni Islamist al Qaeda mainly confined to the country's north after being pushed from former strongholds in Baghdad and Iraq's west.
But the U.S. military has said it expects insurgents to attempt high-profile attacks to grab media attention and show they are still a potent force.
Security forces had deployed a team of female guards around Kadhamiya to search women. Women have carried out more than 20 suicide attacks in Iraq this year, particularly in northwestern Diyala province.
Al Qaeda has often targeted Shi'ite pilgrims taking part in religious events in Iraq. It considers Shi'ism -- the majority Muslim denomination in Iraq -- heretical.
Other Shi'ite religious events in recent months have passed relatively peacefully in Iraq.
The Kadhamiya pilgrimage is one of several religious events in the Shi'ite calendar which has attracted millions since the fall of former president Saddam Hussein. The Sunni Arab leader curbed participation in such events.
In 2005 the Kadhamiya pilgrimage was marred by one of the worst losses of life in a single incident since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion when rumours of a bomb attack triggered a stampede among pilgrims crossing a bridge leading to the shrine. Up to 1,000 people were killed.
The bridge has been closed since but is expected to reopen soon after this year's pilgrimage. Other bridges and roads leading to Kadhamiya have been closed for the event, and a vehicle curfew will be imposed, the Iraqi military has said.
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