Iran bans Karbala pilgrimage till further notice

September 5, 2007 - 0:0

KARBALA, Iraq (IRNA) -- A Hajj & Pilgrimage authority said here Monday since security measures have been intensified in Karbala, visits of entire Iranian pilgrims to that holy city are banned till further notice.

Mohammad Shokrara added in an interview with IRNA, ""All Iranian pilgrims in Karbala were from the beginning of the armed clashed under severe security control of the Iranian and Iraqi forces, and after a series of negotiations they were transferred to Najaf using public transportation.""
He added, ""There are some 4,000 Iranians in Najaf now, and till further notice, pilgrimage of the holy shrines in Karbala is deleted from the programs of this organ.""
The Iranian official said that in accordance with the communiqué issued by Karbala Governorate, the ban on pilgrimage in Karbala shrines would be effective at least till next week, and till the city would be wiped off the anarchists.
Shokrara said that on average 1,500 Iranians arrive in Iraq for pilgrimage every day and there are enough rooms and board for hosting them in Holy Najaf presently.
He said Iran has also entered talks with Iraqi officials to extend the pilgrimage period from a week into a month at most.
According to him, in order to provide security for the pilgrimage convoys of the Iranians the Hajj & Pilgrimage Organization has signed contracts with two security companies, under whose security umbrella the pilgrims are put ever since their arrival in Iraq