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  Updated: February 01, 2010

Five million to-date step in Karbala for Arbaeen commemoration

By: Ismail Zabeeh

HOLY CITY OF KARBALA, Iraq: Number of Husseini pilgrims who have entered the holy city of Karbala till February 1 to commemorate Arbaeen Al-Husseini (the fortieth day after the martyrdom of Al-Imam Aba Abdellah Al-Hussein, peace be on him) is five million, according to Othaman Al-Ghanami, chief of Al-Forat Al-Ausat operations.

Arbaeen (Safar 20) falls this year in Iraq on February 5.

Officials hope that the number of pilgrims will increase to 12 million on the day of Arbaeen.

Meanwhile, a female suicide bomber left at least 41 people martyred and 106 others wounded on Monday in an attack on pilgrims in the Iraqi capital who were trekking to the southern city of Karbala for Arbaeen, an Interior Ministry source said.

Pilgrims clad in black and carrying red, black and green flags were going to the shrine of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed's grandson.
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"I started travelling on foot a week ago from al-Nasiriyah town," said Halim al-Zamli, adding that he is happy he has now nearly reached the shrine.

"Security measures are tight and they made us feel safe while walking, especially at night, near the empty desert roads," added the 41-year-old civil servant.

Iraqi authorities have deployed around 30,000 military and police officers on the roads leading to Karbala, in both fixed and mobile patrols.

Tourist agencies in Karbala expect the arrival of 500,000 visitors from outside Iraq to take part in the rituals, besides millions coming from the different provinces of the country.

Pilgrims from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, India and Pakistan are expected to fill the 320 hotels in the holy city.

"My job is to provide pilgrims with rest, food and warmth. I feel I have to help all the visitors of Imam Hussein be comfortable," said Abu-Murtdada, the owner of one of the rest houses set up to provide pilgrims with food, drinks as well as medical help, if needed.    


 
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