1.5 Million Throng Ashura

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Iraq
Thursday, 16 December 2010


Iraq_AshuraIraq has arrested 80 Al-Qaeda-linked militants a general said were plotting attacks during Ashura ceremonies in Karbala, where the streets were crowded with 1.5 million visitors Thursday.

Vehicle traffic inside the city was brought to a virtual standstill as visitors were made to walk to the shrines
"Based on intelligence, soldiers were able to raid 14 terrorist cells and arrest 80 militants," General Othman al-Ghanimi said at a news conference Wednesday evening, noting that they belonged to a group called the "Boys of Heaven", an Al-Qaeda-linked group. "They were planning to attack pilgrims on Friday," added Ghanimi, the Iraqi army commander responsible for security in five provinces including Karbala.

Provincial governor Amal al-Din al-Har said that 1.5 million pilgrims had already entered Karbala for the commemorations. He added that a total of two million were expected by Friday, including 100,000 foreign visitors.

Karbala police spokesman Major Alaa Abbas said that no incidents had taken place in the city, and said the heavy security would remain until visitors were on their way home following the ceremonies. Around 28,000 soldiers and police are currently securing Karbala, with a further 7,000 available if needed.

Black flags, representing the deep sorrow on Imam Hussein during the rituals, were visible across the city alongside pictures of Imam Hussein and Abul Fadl Abbas, both of whom are buried in Karbala.

">  of the revered Imams Hussein and Abbas, while all visitors were searched at checkpoints.

"Based on intelligence, soldiers were able to raid 14 terrorist cells and arrest 80 militants," General Othman al-Ghanimi said at a news conference Wednesday evening, noting that they belonged to a group called the "Boys of Heaven", an Al-Qaeda-linked group. "They were planning to attack pilgrims on Friday," added Ghanimi, the Iraqi army commander responsible for security in five provinces including Karbala.

Provincial governor Amal al-Din al-Har said that 1.5 million pilgrims had already entered Karbala for the commemorations. He added that a total of two million were expected by Friday, including 100,000 foreign visitors.

Karbala police spokesman Major Alaa Abbas said that no incidents had taken place in the city, and said the heavy security would remain until visitors were on their way home following the ceremonies. Around 28,000 soldiers and police are currently securing Karbala, with a further 7,000 available if needed.

Black flags, representing the deep sorrow on Imam Hussein during the rituals, were visible across the city alongside pictures of Imam Hussein and Abul Fadl Abbas, both of whom are buried in Karbala.

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