Hundreds of thousands of Shiites mourned a revered imam under tight security in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala yesterday as eight people including pilgrims were killed in Baghdad bus bombings.
Under the gaze of rooftop snipers, crowds of mourners chanting "Ya, Hussein" passed through the mausoleums of Imam Hussein and his half-brother Abbas for the Arbaeen (40 days) ceremony.
They punched the air and their chests with their fists, while others brandished green and black flags.
But in the latest violence to hit Iraq, eight people including four pilgrims returning to Baghdad were killed in two roadside bombings which ripped through minibuses in the capital, medical and police sources said.
And an Iraqi soldier was killed in the northern city of Mosul in an explosion targeting an army patrol.
Karbala officials said millions of Shiites have passed through the city over the past week, many of them having
travelled long distances on foot to mark the end of the 40-day mourning period.
But the pilgrimage, which under executed dictator Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led regime was kept low-key, was blighted by a string of deadly bombings although the climax on the final day in Karbala was incident-free.
At least 50 people died in attacks since Wednesday targeting worshippers, including eight pilgrims killed by a bomb near the Imam Hussein shrine itself.