31 killed after walkway collapse triggers stampede at Iraqi Shiite shrine

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Relatives of one of the victims of a stampede at the Shiite religious ritual of Ashura carry a coffin during a funeral in Kerbala. (Reuters)
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Injured are taken to hospital after a walkway collapsed and set off a stampede as thousands of Shiite Muslims marked one of the most solemn holy days of the year in Karbala, Iraq. (AP Photo)
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Relatives of one of the victims of a stampede at the Shiite Muslim religious ritual of Ashura carry a coffin during a funeral in the holy city of Kerbala, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 11 September 2019

31 killed after walkway collapse triggers stampede at Iraqi Shiite shrine

  • Around 100 others were injured in the incident, which occurred toward the end of an Ashoura procession in Karbala
  • The incident took place during the so-called Tweireej run, when tens of thousands of people run toward the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala around noon

BAGHDAD: A walkway collapsed and set off a stampede in the holy city of Karbala on Tuesday as thousands of Shiite Muslims marked one of their holiest days of the year. At least 31 people were killed and about 100 were injured.
It was the deadliest stampede in recent history during Ashoura commemorations, when hundreds of thousands of people converge on the city, some 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, for the occasion every year.
The incident happened toward the end of the Ashoura procession, causing a panicked rush among worshippers near the gold-domed Imam Hussein shrine, according to two officials who spoke to The Associated Press from Karbala.
In recent years, Ashoura processions have been attacked by extremist militants. In 2004, at the height of Iraq's sectarian violence, 143 people were killed in near simultaneous suicide and other bombings at shrines in Baghdad and Karbala during the Ashoura procession.
In 2005, rumors of a suicide bomber among worshippers crossing a bridge during a different religious holiday caused a massive stampede killing more than 950 people, many of whom jumped, in their panic, into the Tigris River.
Tuesday's commemorations were peaceful until the walkway collapsed, triggering the chaos.
The incident took place during the so-called "Tweireej" run, when tens of thousands of people run toward the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala around noon.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of thousands of black-clad pilgrims held Ashoura processions amid beefed-up security in Karbala and in the capital, Baghdad, marching through the streets. 


Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

Updated 15 September 2019

Algeria to go the polls on December 12, says interim president

ALGIERS: Algeria — whose president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following mass protests — is to hold a presidential election on December 12, his interim successor announced Sunday.

"I have decided... that the date of the presidential election will be Thursday, December 12," said Abdelkader Bensalah, who is precluded from standing himself, in a televised address.

The announcement comes after army chief General Ahmed Gaid Salah, seen as the strongman in Algeria since the fall of Bouteflika, insisted that polls be held by the end of this year, despite ongoing protests demanding the creation of new institutions ahead of any elections.