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Millions Hold Shi'ite Pilgrimage Under Heavy Security In Iraq

The outskirts of Karbala on July 6, with small numbers of pilgrims gathered
Millions of Shi'ite worshippers were gathering in the Iraqi city of Karbala on July 6 for an annual pilgrimage under heavy security following a series of attacks targeting Shi'ite pilgrims.

Iraqi officials say tens of thousands of police officers and a dozen helicopters were deployed to prevent attacks.

An estimated 6 million Iraqi visitors and 150,000 foreign pilgrims came to Karbala for the rituals, which mark the birth of Imam Mehdi, a central figure in Shi'ite Islam.

Shi'ite pilgrims are a frequent target for Al-Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents, especially during times of commemoration ceremonies.

Bombings during another Shi'ite pilgrimage last month killed more than 100 people.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP