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22 December 2004 -- Iran today banned pilgrims from traveling to neighboring Iraq due to the deteriorating security situation in the country.
The official IRNA news agency quoted a police statement as saying all pilgrims are banned from traveling to Iraq until the country is "reasonably secure."
The statement said all border crossings with Iraq were closed.
The decision came after twin suicide bombings killed at least 66 people in the Shi'ite holy cities of Al-Najaf and Karbala on 19 December.
Thousands of Iranian pilgrims travel to Iraq each week to visit the two cities.
(Reuters)For more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated The New Iraq webpage.