07-08-2009, : 03:19
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Security high for Iraq pilgrimage
luksenburg luxemburgo monumentos petrinska rozhledna لكسمبورغ Security high for Iraq pilgrimage
Iraqi pilgrims gather in Karbala
More than one million Iraq pilgrims are gathering in the city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, to mark one of the biggest festivals in Shia Islam.
The event presents a major challenge for Iraqi forces, who took charge of security just over a month ago when the US troops withdrew from Iraqi cities.
At least four pilgrims travelling to or from the festival have already been killed by roadside bombs.
Shia pilgrims in Karbala have often been targeted by attacks in the past.
The festival in Karbala marks the birth of Mohammed al-Mehdi, the 12th and last Shia Imam, known as the Hidden Imam.
At least three pilgrims were killed and more than eight injured when the bus in which they were travelling home from Karbala was struck by a roadside bomb as it entered Sadr City in Baghdad.
It came after an attack on Thursday evening killed at least one person making their way to the festival and injured three.
At least year's festival, at least six pilgrims were were killed by a car bomb attack in which a least 10 more were injured.
And another 18 people died when a female attacker blew herself up while among a group of pilgrims in the town of Iskandariya, south of Baghdad.
In 2007, fierce fighting in the city around the time of the festival left more than 50 people dead.
More than 20,000 Iraqi police have been deployed to protect the pilgrims gathering this year.
The car bomb late on Thursday was a reminder of the need for that protection, says the BBC's Natalya Antelava in Baghdad.
Tight security is in place around the Karbala shrines
The festival could become a test for the Iraqi government, which says its forces are in control of the situation, she adds.
But many Iraqis says the government has yet to prove it is in full control of security.
Last Friday, a series of apparently co-ordinated bombs outside five Shia mosques in Baghdad killed at least 29 people and injured more than 130.
On Tuesday, a bomb in one of Baghdad's predominantly Sunni neighbourhoods killed three people.