KARBALA / Aswat al-Iraq: The security plan to protect thousands of Shiite visitors during the Shiite ritual of Ashura witnessed the deployment of 32,000 security elements, Karbal police media director said on Tuesday.
"The authorities decided to ban the entry of all vehicles as the number of visitors increased," Colonel Ahmad Mohammad al-Hasnawi told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
The Shiite pilgrims were heading to the city of Samarra to visit the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi, before turning to the holy Shiite city of Karbala to mark the major Shiite ritual of Ashura.
The 10-day annual Ashura mourning rite, the holiest of the Shiite religious calendar, which marks the death in 680 AD of Imam Hussein,
grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Shiite mourners usually gather in processions in their towns and cities before they move on foot or buses to the holy shrines in Karbala, some 108 km southwest of Baghdad.