Official: Monday attack in Karbala targeted no Iranian pilgrims

IRNA – A senior official in charge of Arbaeen ritual affairs stressed that no Iranian pilgrims were harmed by the attack in Karbala on Monday.

In a press conference today, he rejected rumors about the blast, stressing that the attack did not target the Iranian pilgrims as it occurred in northwest of Karbala.

He said the blast did not happen along the route the Iranian pilgrims are travelling inside Iraq.

Earlier, spokesman for organization in charge of Arabeen ceremonies affairs Hamidreza Goudarzi said over one million pilgrims have crossed into Iraq through four official Iranian outlets so far.

Talking to IRNA on Sunday, he noted that based on the latest information today, about 1,050,000 Iranians have passed through the four border checkpoints on the Iraqi border namely Shalamche, Chazzabe and Mehran as well as air borders.

The official referred to Mehran as the busiest border checkpoint with close to half a million pilgrims having used it to enter Iraq.

Goudarzi further stressed the need for all Iranian pilgrims seeking entry into Iraqi soil to attain visas.

He said 35 Iranian pilgrims who lacked sufficient legal documents have been arrested and sent to jail by Iraqi officials.

The official further noted that the Iranian foreign ministry officials are in talks with the Iraqi side on the release of arrested pilgrims.

He explained those who embark on illegal entry into Iraq will face 6 months in jail and cash punishment.

The official also said a total of 1,390,000 Iraqi visas have so far been issued for Iranian pilgrims with another 743,223 ones still going through the procedures.

Goudarzi said he anticipated about 2,500,000 pilgrims to travel to Iraq for the Arbaeen rituals, showing an increase of about half a million in number compared to last year.

Arbaeen, falling on November 20 this year, marks the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Imam Hussein (AS), the third Imam of Shia Muslims.

Each year, pilgrims, mainly from Iraq and Iran, travel long routes on foot to Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located.