Tight Security In Baghdad As Thousands Gather For Shia Pilgrimage

Tight Security In Baghdad As Thousands Gather For Shia Pilgrimage

 Thousands of Iraqi Shia converged on a shrine in Baghdad on Sunday (April 22) as part of a pilgrimage to commemorate the death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a great-grandson of Prophet Mohammad who died in the 8th century.

Iraqi authorities imposed a vehicle curfew in a number of major streets of the city, while checkpoints were set up in an effort to protect the pilgrims, who are walking to the shrine in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district.

“We have surrounded the area with security forces in addition to the deployment of security members in plain clothes inside and outside areas where pilgrims are walking through," Federal Police Commander Mohammed Qassim Fahad said.

Pilgrims were sprayed with water as they walked in an effort to keep people cool during the hot day.

The annual pilgrimage, one of the most important events in the Shia religious calendar, has been targeted previously by militants.

"[The] streets are secure and they [Iraqi security forces] are doing their duty. We pray to God to aide them with His support and bless them with victory over Daesh [Islamic State] and those who support them,” pilgrim Khaldiya Abdul Hussein said. “God willing, we will liberate Mosul and Hawija and all those who left the country return back and all the displaced people return home."

Last year, three separate bomb attacks hit Iraq's capital during the pilgrimage, killing 14 and wounded more than 30 people.