Explosions rocked various parts of Iraq on Thursday during the Shi’ite pilgrimage holiday of Ashura, leaving at least 41 dead, according to the BBC. Iraq has recently seen a fierce upswing in bombings.
Of the three blasts targeting the pilgrims, Al Arabiya reports that the major one occurred in Diyala province north of Baghdad, where a religious procession was struck by a suicide bombing that left over 30 dead.
The Shi’ite holiday of Ashura sees roughly 2 million pilgrims arrive at the Iraqi city of Karbala. There, the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Hussein, is said to have been killed in 680 CE, an incident which greatly contributed to the centuries-old bloody sectarian divide in Islam.
Shi’ites flock to Hussein’s mausoleum on Ashura, ritually showing guilt and remorse for not defending him by beating their heads, chests and sometimes making incisions on their scalps with swords.
The UN notes that more than 6,500 civillians have been killed in Iraq this year.
Shi’ites make up the majority in Iraq and have been frequently targeted by Sunni terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda.