On a fateful Saturday, North of the capital city, Baghdad, a tragic incident took place: a fully-loaded bus ferrying devotional pilgrims to the sacred city of Karbala met with a calamitous accident. The unfortunate incident resulted in the untimely demise of 18 innocent lives, as asserted by medical officials from the scene.
Karbala, renowned as a spiritual beacon for millions of devout followers annually for the Shiite pilgrimage of Arbaeen, witnessed an unfortunate setback. The revered event is globally acknowledged as the most substantial annual public gathering. The narrative of Karbala resonates in the hearts of believers far and wide, from diverse regions of Iraq to distant lands like Iran and the Gulf countries. A multitude of these pilgrims undertake a strenuous journey by foot, their resolve unyielding against the challenging journey to Karbala.
Details disclosed by two anonymous Iraqi medical officials, due to the confidential nature of their involvement, unveiled that the fateful overturning of the bus occurred near the town of Balad. This location is approximately 55 miles or 90 kilometers north of the bustling city of Baghdad.
Among the deceased were 3 women and 15 men, constituting a broad tableau of nationalities. This included 10 Iranians, two of Iraq’s own – the bus driver and his blood kin, along with six individuals of disquietingly unknown origin, as unveiled by the officials.
The event of Arbaeen has deep-seated roots in the essence of Islamic faith, as it commemorates the 40th day of mourning that followed the seventh-century tragic demise of Hussein – the esteemed grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Engulfed in the tumult of Islam’s dawning century, Hussein was martyred in the Battle of Karbala by the Muslim Umayyad forces.
On the same ill-fated Saturday, a reverberating echo of this rich history was palpable at the Shalamcheh border crossing. It was here that the prime minister of Iraq, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, was engaged in the personal supervision of Iranian pilgrims’ entry to Iraq. His efforts were accompanied by Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, with both leaders jointly laying the foundation for an ambitious railway project. This endeavor promises to bolster the transport connectivity between the two countries, fostering irreplaceable cultural ties and shared faith.