Source Pravda.Ru

Iraqis mourn stampede victims

Thousands have gathered in Baghdad for the funerals of the nearly 1,000 Shiite pilgrims killed in a mass stampede during a religious procession.

According to police, 965 pilgrims were drowned or trampled to death and 465 were injured in the crush on a bridge in north Baghdad. The death count could rise as recovery crews search for more victims.

Iraq's Health Ministry had earlier issued a smaller number, but noted it did not include those taken away by relatives at the scene.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari visited Kadhimiya hospital where many of the victims were taken, The Associated Press reported. He was accompanied by the ministers of defense and health, CNN reports.

The government announced three days of national mourning over the disaster, apparently sparked by a shout that a suicide bomber was among the more than one million people gathering at a Shiite shrine in the capital.

Authorities believe that created panic among the waves of pedestrians trying to cross the Al-A'imma bridge over the Tigris River. The throngs of Shiite faithful had been stopped by security checks and bogged down by concrete barriers.

Three hours earlier, an insurgent mortar attack near the Kadhimiya mosque killed seven people and wounded 36 others.

Government officials are investigating that attack and the stampede itself. They also want to explore the extent of any "technical defects" on the bridge.

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