Shiite Muslims around the world marked Tuesday the Day of Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson, Hussein, in the year 680 CE.
Millions of Shiites, who constitute the minority sect in most Muslim countries, went out on the street for the traditional mourning procession, in which they beat their chests, whip their backs with chains, and cut themselves with swords and knives until blood is shed.
Thousands take to street in Pakistan (Photo: EPA)
Procession in Karbala, Iraq (Photo: EPA)
Sword ritual in Baghdad (Photo: EPA)
The day of mourning is commonplace not only in Iran and Iraq – the two countries with the largest concentration of Shiites – but also in countries such as Bahrain, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Tradition holds that the revered imam was decapitated and his body mutilated. Hussein's body is buried in Karbala, which is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad. His death was a formative event in Shiite Islam.
Ashura procession in Capital of Bahrain. (Photo: Reuters)
Mourning has no age. Ashura marked in India (Photo: AFP)
Women mourning in India (Photo: AFP)
Shiite Indians (Photo: AFP)
Also on Tuesday, a series of suicide attacks aimed against Shi'ites rocked Afghanistan, killing some 60 people.
One of the attacks, which took place in a crowded shrine in Kabul, was the most lethal incident in the Afghan capital since an attack on the Indian embassy in 2008 and an act of sectarian violence unprecedented since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001.
Mass flagellation in Pakistan (Photo: MCT)
Covered in blood in Bahrain (Photo: Reuters)
Shiite worshippe in Afghanistan (Photo: EPA)
"They were targeting Shiite people," said Hussain Rassoly, a 25-year-old Shiite Muslim in Kabul. "The enemies of this country are trying to bring friction between Sunni and Shiite in Afghanistan."
On Monday, at least 28 people were killed and 78 wounded in a wave of bomb attacks in central Iraq against Shiite pilgrims.
Scene of suicde bombing in Kabul (Photo: EPA)
Red-chested mourners in Karbala, Iraq (Photo: EPA)
Children marking Ashura in Lebanon (Photo: AFP)
Three civilians and two police officers were also wounded on Tuesday by two mortar shells fired at a Shiite mosque in the disputed north Iraq city of Kirkuk, police said.
The Ashura rituals have frequently been targeted by Sunni Arab extremists, who see them as symbolically highlighting the split between Islam's two main branches.
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