SHIITES’ MASSACRE: TOLL WORSENS AND A MYSTERY LINGERS

Thursday
09:40:38
September
01 2005

SHIITES’ MASSACRE: TOLL WORSENS AND A MYSTERY LINGERS

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IRAQ, The official toll of the dead from today’s stampede t=near the al-Kadhmiya mosque has risen from 647 to 695 said a health ministry official, doctor Jaseb Latif Ali, according to whom, the government expects the victims to reach 1000. Security forces told sources the number of dead is actually 816 and 323 wounded, while the actual cause of the tragedy has not yet been identified. Early explanations suggest someone in the crowd cried “suicide bomber” while a million faithful were heading to the mosque to commemorate the martyrdom of the Seventh imam, Musa al-Kadhim.

A second explanation says the crowd was terrorized by mortar shells shot toward the mosque. Whatever the cause, the crowd started to push, the railings collapsed and hundreds fell into the Tigris river, while others were stampeded as the pilgrims fled. Early testimony, say the victims are largely women and children. The mystery concerns an observation by the health Ministry in Baghdad, which said that among the victims at least 25 were found to have died from poison, the very same cause of death of the imam Musa al Kadhim in 799 AD (183 AH). The government, had alerted the pilgrims about the possibility of poisoned food. [AB]

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