(kär'bələ) , city (1987 pop. 296,705), central Iraq, at the edge of the Syrian Desert. The city's trade is in religious objects, hides, wool, and dates. Karbala is the site of the tomb of the Shiite leader Husein, who was killed in the city in 680. It is second only to Mecca in being a holy place visited by Shiite pilgrims. The tomb, with a gilded dome and three minarets, is the most notable building; it was destroyed by the Wahhabis in 1801 but was quickly restored by contributions from Persians and other Shiite Muslims. Iranian pilgrims to Mecca traditionally begin their journey at Karbala, and many pious Muslims bring the bones of their dead for burial there. It is sometimes transliterated Kerbela.
Two million pilgrims gather in holy Iraqi city for Shiite festival
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims are gathering in the Iraq's holy city of Karabala for the climax of the annual Ashura ceremonies. Officials said more than two million pilgrims from across Iraq, the Middle East and Pakistan have streamed into Karbala, amid tight security. Around 30,000 Iraqi soldiers have been deployed to the region, which is located 100 km from Baghdad. The Ashura ceremonies mark the holiest days for Shiites in a commemoration of the death of Imam Hussein in 680, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Coordinated suicide bombings in Baghdad and Karbala in 2004 killed more than 160 people.
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