Iraq Reports Nearly 650 Pilgrims Killed in Baghdad Stampede
31 August 2005
Iraqi officials say nearly 650 Shi'ite pilgrims have been killed in a stampede as pilgrims crossed a Baghdad bridge to a shrine in the Iraqi capital.
The officials say panic swept through the crowd after a rumor spread that suicide bombers were among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.
The interior ministry says most of the dead are women, children and the elderly, who were either trampled or shoved to their deaths in the Tigris river below. More than 300 people were reported injured.
Earlier, insurgents fired mortars near the shrine, the Khadimiyah mosque, killing at least seven people.
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has declared three days of national mourning.
Tensions have been high between Iraq's main religious and ethnic communities in recent weeks as they haggled over the country's draft constitution.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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