600 people killed in a stamped of Shia Muslims

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4 Jul 2005
Source From Times Online;

More than 600 people died today when a crowd of Shia Muslims stampeded off a bridge over the River Tigris in Baghdad, apparently panicked by a rumour that a suicide bomber was preparing to blow himself up.

Jalil Al-Shumari, Deputy Health Minister, told the Reuters news agency that 500 deaths had already been confirmed. Police said the toll in the worst disaster of the Iraqi insurgency would climb over the 600 mark.

The crowd was on its way to the Kadhimiya mosque for an important religious ceremony when the rumours spread of a suicide bomb attack. Earlier, at least seven people died in three separate mortar attacks on the crowd.

Amid conflicting reports, it was unclear whether those who died had thrown themselves off the al-Aima bridge, or whether the bridge's railings had simply collapsed in the crush.

There were also reports that some in the crowd had been poisoned - although details remained scant.

Television reports said about one million pilgrims from many parts of Baghdad and from outlying provinces had gathered near the Imam Mousa al-Kadim shrine in the capital’s Kazimiyah district for the annual commemoration of the death of the Shia saint.
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