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At least 31 killed in Iraq's Karbala shrine stampede

File Photo Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Baghdad, Iraq Sep 10, 2019, 07.40 PM (IST)

At least 31 pilgrims died on Tuesday in a stampede at a major shrine in Iraq's Karbala where they were marking the holy day of Ashura, the country's health ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr said the toll could rise even further, as another 100 people were injured including 10 in critical condition.

It is the deadliest stampede in recent history during Ashura, when pilgrims from around the world visit Karbala to commemorate the death of Hussein, Prophet Mohammed's grandson.

On Tuesday, packed processions worshippers had made their way to the gold-domed shrine in Karbala.

Similar ceremonies took place in the capital Baghdad and in the southern cities of Najaf and Basra.  

In 2005, at least 965 pilgrims heading to the Imam Kadhim shrine in Baghdad during a different holiday had died after rumours of a suicide bomber in the crowd sparked a mass stampede.

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Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr said the toll could rise even further, as another 100 people were injured including 10 in critical condition.