BAGHDAD, Jan 16: A curfew will be slapped on Baghdad and 10 Iraqi provinces on Thursday for three days for Ashura, state television reported on Wednesday.

All traffic will be closed from Thursday night in the southern provinces of Babylon, Basra, Diwaniya, Karbala, Missan, Muthanna, Najaf, Thi-Qar and Wassit, the channel quoted an interior ministry statement as saying.

The curfew will also apply to Baghdad and Diyala province

in the centre-north of the country.

In the capital, bridges across the River Tigris will also be closed to traffic, the statement quoted interior ministry spokesman General Abdel Karim Khalaf as saying.

Police have said tens of thousands of Iraqi troops and police would be on duty in Karbala and nearby Najaf for Ashura.

Some 12,000 Iraqi soldiers and police have been deployed along with 3,000 members of a police rapid response unit in Karbala, according to city police.

Last August a pilgrimage in Karbala became a bloodbath when police and gunmen of the Mahdi Army militia of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed at two holy shrines in the city centre.

Sadr suspended the activities of his militia two days after the clashes, which killed 52 people and ended the pilgrimage abruptly.

Police are also on alert in Najaf, site of the shrine of Imam Ali and headquarters of revered cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which is one of the main stopping points on the way to Karbala.

Some 4,000 officers are patrolling the 50-kilometre route between Najaf and Karbala.

Checkpoints have been set up along all routes to Karbala and the security forces are using special equipment to detect explosives, police said.

In the past suicide bombers have mingled among crowds of pilgrims before detonating their explosive vests, causing carnage.—AFP

Opinion

Journalism and the internet
01 Mar 2021

Journalism and the internet

Big tech and big news corporations have negotiated an agreement of profit-sharing but where does this leave citizens?
A cold peace?
Updated 01 Mar 2021

A cold peace?

We have no way of knowing how long the ceasefire will last.
By-election fiasco
Updated 28 Feb 2021

By-election fiasco

The ECP must be commended for taking timely, decisive and bold action.

Editorial

LNG deal
Updated 01 Mar 2021

LNG deal

PAKISTAN has clinched a good deal for the long-term supply of LNG from Qatar. Under the new contract, Qatar will...
01 Mar 2021

US Syria strike

IF the US is serious about mending fences with Iran, then firing missiles at fighters allied with Tehran in Syria ...
01 Mar 2021

Sri Lanka cremations

SRI LANKA has in a welcome move reversed its order that mandated all those dying of Covid-19 be cremated. The...
28 Feb 2021

Covid concerns

WITH every form of restriction now effectively lifted in the country after an assessment of the Covid-19 situation,...
FATF decision
Updated 28 Feb 2021

FATF decision

THE decision taken by the Financial Action Task Force to keep Pakistan on the grey list until June, despite the...
28 Feb 2021

Underfunded police

FOR decades, successive governments in the country have talked about police reforms. While the latter are essential,...