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Stampede at Karbala shrine leaves 31 dead, 100 injured

Stampede at Karbala shrine leaves 31 dead, 100 injured

The stampede reportedly took place at the entrance of Imam Husayn's shrine.

At least 31 people were killed and more than 100 wounded, some of them critically, according to Saif al-Badr, a spokesman for the Health Ministry.

More than 30 people were killed and almost 100 injured in Iraq after a stampede was set off while Shiite Muslims celebrated one of the holiest days of the year.

The day of Ashura is commemorated by Shiite Muslims worldwide and marks the climax of mourning rituals in the Islamic month of Muharram for the 7th century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.

Another 75 people were injured in the incident which security officials told The Associated Press happened when part of a walkway collapsed during Ashoura commemorations.

Hussein's martyrdom was a key event in the unfolding schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

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The ministry said around 100 others were wounded in the stampede at the shrine, which is 100km south of Baghdad.

In recent years, Ashoura processions have been attacked by extremist Sunni militants.

No Iraqi media released images of the walkway collapse or ensuing stampede.

The following year, at least 965 pilgrims were killed in a stampede on a bridge over the River Tigris in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, during a different Shia holy day.

On Sunday night, thousands marched toward the holy shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which had been lit up on the eve of the celebration.

Israel has recently expanded its war on Iran and its allies in the region, and is believed to have struck targets as far out as Iraq in recent weeks, drawing outrage and pledges of retaliation.