KARBALA / Aswat al-Iraq: Police forces seized on Wednesday three vehicles carrying weapons and explosives and defused two bombs in north of Karbala.
"Security authorities launched precautionary operations during which three vehicles carrying explosives were seized," Colonel Mohammad Ahmad al-Hasnawi, from the Karbala police, told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
"The forces defused also two bombs planted by gunmen to target visitors in north of Karbala," he added.
Iraq's holy shrine city of Karbala was gearing up for the climax of annual Shiite mourning rituals, with millions of pilgrims thronging the city amid tightened security.
Arbaeen marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary commemorating the slaying of Imam Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most revered figures, by the armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD.
The battle near Karbala is at the heart of the historical division with Islam's Sunni and Shiite sects, a split that fueled sectarian violence between Iraq's majority Shiite and smaller Sunni population since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Shiite pilgrims visiting Karbala are regularly targeted in attacks by Sunni extremists.
This year marks the second time Iraqi troops are solely charged with security for Arbaeen since the US-led invasion of 2003.