Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Baghdad lockdown for religious festival

(AFP) - All traffic will be banned in the war-torn Iraqi capital Baghdad this week to protect the Shiite pilgrims expected to throng a city shrine for a major festival, security forces said on Tuesday. The vehicle curfew will come into effect at 10 pm on Wednesday and last until 5 am on Saturday in an effort to secure the city during the anniversary the death of the Imam Musa Kadhim, Brigadier General Qassim Atta said.
In the Kadhimiyah district of the city, home to Kadhim's tomb and the centre of the celebrations, the curfew will begin on Tuesday night, he added. "The aim of the curfew is to deny terrorists and takfiri (sectarian extremists) any opportunity to strike," Atta, the chief spokesman of the Baghdad security plan, told state television. Atta said civilians would not be allowed to carry weapons and that the route that pilgrims will follow on foot to the shrine would be tightly controlled by Iraqi security forces.
Imam Kadhim was the seventh of the 12 Shiite imams and died in Baghdad in 799 after he was poisoned in prison. Every year tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims mark his passing by visiting his tomb in Kadhimiyah.
Iraq is in the grip of sectarian war and previous pilgrimages have been marred by violence and accidents. In August 2005, at least 965 people were killed when fears of attack triggered a stampede on a Tigris river bridge.

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