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High security in Iraq to counter attacks during religious holiday of Ashura

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High security in Iraq to counter attacks during religious holiday of Ashura

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Security forces are on high alert in Iraq as Shi’ite Muslims gather for ceremonies to mark the religious holiday of Ashura.

There are fears that extremists may try to target the millions of pilgrims who take part in the events, with heavy casualties in attacks in previous years.

The presence of ISIL militants in the country has heightened those fears.

ISIL has previously described Shi’ite Muslims as infidels who deserve to be killed, forcing local communities to take extra security precautions.

During the ceremonies people hit themselves and gash their heads. Under the rule of Saddam Hussein such events were banned under secular laws.