Police Disperse IMN Members In Kaduna

A file photo of an IMN protest.
A file photo of an IMN protest.

 

Police authorities on Saturday dispersed members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as they gathered in Kaduna to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the alleged killing of some of their members by the Nigerian Army on July 25, 2014.

IMN Spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, told Channels Television that the commemoration was a peaceful annual event usually observed with members gathering to offer prayers for the repose of the souls of their departed members.

He explained that shortly after they commenced the programme at a cemetery in Zaria, Armed policemen stormed the venue and started shooting tear gas into their air.

Mr Musa asked the police to save their bullets for armed bandits and terrorists who are killing innocent and defenseless civilians.

In its response, the State Police Command said the group remains outlawed and security operatives reserve the right to disperse them.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, officially declared the IMN banned in July 2029.

The group was founded by Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who is being tried by the Kaduna state government over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of the public peace, and criminal conspiracy among others.

 

Court Awards N15m Against Police Over Killing Of IMN Members

A file photo of policemen dispersing Shiite members during a protest in Abuja on July 22, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

The Abuja Division of the Federal High court has slammed a fine of N15 million on the Nigeria Police Force for the killing of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

The IMN members were killed during the protests which turned violent in July 2019 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who awarded the cost against the police on Monday, also ordered the immediate release of the corpses of three members of the Shiite group deposited at the morgue of the National Hospital.

In his judgment, the judge held that the action of the police was both illegal and unlawful as it contravened the provisions of Section 31(1) of the Constitution which bordered on the fundamental rights of the victims.

Lawyers to the police were unavailable throughout the hearing of the suit to counter the submissions of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria with regards to the accounts of what transpired during the protest held on July 22, 2019.

On account of this, Justice Taiwo held that the submission in law that was not countered by another party would, therefore, be admitted as correct.

However, the police lawyer who showed up for the judgment, Simon Lough, claimed that the court had been misled.

On the other hand, the counsel to the applicants, Bala Dakum, commended the judgement, saying justice had been served.

El-Zakzaky, Wife Unfit To Stand Trial, Court Rules

Court To Rule On El-Zakzaky's Bail Application August 5
A file photo of Mr Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

 

 

The Kaduna State High Court has again adjourned the trial of the embattled leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat.

Justice Gideon Kurada adjourned the trial of the couple until April 23 and 24 during their arraignment in court on Monday.

Both defendants were expected to take their plea at the resumed hearing of their case, but could not do so due to their poor health condition.

READ ALSO: Court Dismisses Non-Declaration Of Assets Case Against Ekweremadu

In his ruling, Justice Kurada held that the defendants were not medically fit to stand trial hence their trial could not go on as planned.

He, therefore, ordered the management of the Nigerian Correctional Service to fully comply with an earlier directive on February 6, that the IMN leader and his wife should be properly attended to by their personal physicians under close supervision by the facility management.

 

El-Zakzaky and his wife are facing eight counts over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace, and criminal conspiracy among others.

The charges were filed against them by the Kaduna State government.

The defendants were brought to the court amid heavy security presence while security operatives cordoned off all major roads leading to the court complex and the court premises.

This comes about three weeks after the last hearing of the suit following the adjournment of the case for eight months.

On February 6, Justice Kurada had amended the charges against the defendants to enable the trial of the IMN leader and his wife commence without delay.

He also ordered that the defendants should be allowed to be seen by their private doctors at the Nigerian Correctional Service facility in the Kaduna State capital, with close supervision of the facility management.

The IMN leader and his wife have been in detention since their arrest in December 2015 following a bloody clash between the Shiites and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Kaduna Govt To Appeal Acquittal Of 91 IMN Members

Some IMN members alight from two trucks after they were discharged and acquitted by a Kaduna State High Court on February 21, 2020.

 

 

The Kaduna State government says it will challenge the court judgement which discharged and acquitted 91 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

The Director of Public Prosecution in the State, Daris Bayero, disclosed this to Channels Television in reaction to the judgement of the Kaduna State High Court delivered on Friday.

He said, “Now we have read the ruling; My Lord has discharged them (the IMN members) after a no-case submission.

“She discharged them and acquitted them and said we did not present any legally admissible evidence before the court.”

“Now, we have looked at the judgment and listened to the judgment because I was in court when the judgment was delivered.

“The judgment is erroneous on point of law because 31 witnesses were called, including senior military officers that were at the scene of the incident when it happened and they came to testify and gave a vivid account of what happened to them on that day,” Bayero added.

Justice Hajaratu Gwada had acquitted the defendants, who were arrested during a clash with soldiers in Zaria in December 2015, of the charges filed against them by the state government.

They were arraigned on five counts of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, culpable homicide, disturbance of public peace, and causing grievous hurt.

During their trial, the defence counsel had filed a no-case submission before the court on the grounds that his clients were innocent, stressing that the government had failed to prove its allegations.

Justice Gwada, thereafter, struck out all the charges filed against the IMN members, saying the prosecutor could not prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

But Bayero alleged that the judge erred in her ruling, adding that the prosecution presented over 105 exhibits that were cleared and legally admitted by the court.

He insisted that the way forward was to test the ruling at the appellate court with the hope that justice would be served.

The government prosecutor decried that the trial of the defendants began in 2016 and senior military and police officers, as well as senior pathologists, gave their testimonies before the court.

He was unhappy that the court said they have not presented any legally admissible evidence to prove their allegations against the IMN members.

“Accordingly, I have been directed to file a notice and grounds of appeal as soon as we obtain the full reading of the court before the court of appeal. That is the position we are in now.

“We are not happy with the part where My Lord said that we have not presented any legally admissible evidence before the court. That is the part that hurts us the most,” the government official said.

He insisted, “We must test that! It is only the Court of Appeal that will say otherwise. We are trying to obtain the record and then we would appeal against the judgment definitely.”

Kaduna Court Frees 91 Shiite Members After Four Years In Detention

Some IMN members alight from two trucks after they were discharged and acquitted by a Kaduna State High Court on February 21, 2020.

 

 

A Kaduna State High Court has discharged and acquitted 91 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

The presiding judge, Justice Hajaratu Gwada, acquitted the defendants of the charges filed against them by the state government in her judgement delivered on Friday.

The freed members of the Shiite group were arrested during a clash with soldiers in Zaria in December 2015.

They were arraigned on five counts of criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, culpable homicide, disturbance of public peace, and causing grievous hurt.

During their trial, the defence counsel had filed a no-case submission before the court on the grounds that his clients were innocent.

He also stressed that the state government had failed to prove its allegations against them beyond a reasonable doubt.

Giving her judgement, Justice Gwada struck out all the charges filed against the IMN members and acquitted them.

She held that the decision was as a result of the prosecutor to prove the allegations levelled against the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt.

In its reaction, the state government rejected the judgement which it described as ‘erroneous‘.

The State Director of Public Prosecution, Daris Bayero, told Channels Television that the state would appeal the judgement at a higher court until justice was served on the defendants.

On his part, the counsel to the IMN, Maxwell Kyon, commended the judgment while briefing reporters.

Kyon described the ruling as the “prevailing of truth over injustice” and criticised the state government for detaining the IMN members for over four years without any cogent reason.

He decried that some of the defendants lost their children and wives, while others missed their admission into tertiary institutions while in prison.

Group Asks Court To Stop IMN’s Planned Book Launch

 

 

A nongovernmental organization, the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has filed a suit at the Kaduna state High Court asking for an order to stop the Spokesman of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim Musa, from publishing a book on the December 2015 clash between the group and the Army in Zaria which led to loss of many lives and property.

The group says the proposed book is capable of jeopardizing the ongoing trial of the embattled IMN leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife.

Speaking to reporters shortly after filing an exparte motion at the court, counsel to Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) Edward Omaga, says the Centre views the attempt to publish the book on the alleged massacre of IMN members in Zaria, as an attempt to prove that Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his followers are not guilty even when he and some of his members are being prosecuted in a competent court for various offences by the Kaduna state government.

READ ALSO: Soleimani Killing: Shiites Protest In Abuja, Burn US Flag

The group, therefore, wants the court to stop the IMN spokesman from releasing the book for public consumption at the same time when issues are before the court of law, and more so that the IMN has been proscribed by both Kaduna state and the Federal Government.

In the originating summons, the nongovernmental organization wants the court to determine whether by virtue of the report of the judicial commission of inquiry into the clash between IMN and the Nigerian army and the gazetted white paper emanating from it, the IMN was not proscribed and designated as a terrorist group ,and whether Ibrahim Musa is not by writing a book on the IMN attempting to commit an act of terrorism.

The Centre is also asking the court for an order mandating the Kaduna state Commissioner of Police to arrest and prosecute the IMN spokesman for trying to publish the book entitled, “December 2015 Massacre of Shiites in Nigeria: Survivors Accounts” which it says, amounts to trying to dislodge the Nigerian government.

Omaga explains that the centre’s interest is to see that the security of the nation is not threatened under any guise and that members of the public are not allowed to engage in activities capable of inciting people against the government or rubbishing the temple of justice.

However, in a swift reaction, the IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa describes the group’s suit as a deliberate attempt to suppress the true account of what happened between Shiites and soldiers in Zaria.

According to him, the nongovernmental organization is one of the groups hired by the Nigerian army to blackmail the IMN and its members by ensuring the proposed book which has survivors’ account does not see the light of the day, adding that no amount of court action or blackmail against the IMN will stop the public presentation of the book.

The Court Will Decide El-Zakzaky’s Fate – Kaduna Govt

 

The Kaduna State government on Thursday said the fate of the embattled leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) is in the hands of the court.

This was disclosed by the Attorney General of Kaduna State and Commissioner for Justice, Aisha Dikko.

She revealed that the ongoing legal processes should not be the subject of a media campaign or pressure of any kind, affirming that the Kaduna State Government has no intention to withdraw the charges and would rather leave it to the court to decide the case.

READ ALSO: ICRC Evacuate Victims After Deadly Boko Haram Attack On Monguno

In a statement issued in Kaduna, the state capital, Dikko said both Ibrahim El Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat are facing an eight-count charge, including culpable homicide punishable with death, before the High Court of Kaduna State.

The Attorney General recalls that the court had earlier refused the accused persons’ application for bail following their arraignment in August 2018.

“At its last sitting on December 5, 2019, the court adjourned hearing in the matter to February 6, 2020, and ordered the transfer of the couple from DSS facilities to the Kaduna Correctional Centre for the duration of the trial.

“It is the High Court that will decide the case, and the rule of law demands respect for the prerogatives of the court and the ongoing legal process,” she said.

Dikko said further that like any other person facing a criminal trial, El-Zakzaky and his wife have been accorded due process and are being represented by their lawyers.

“There is no court order pending against the Kaduna State Government on the matter. Rulings and orders that were secured against the Federal Government do not have any bearing against the Kaduna State Government which was not a party to those proceedings and against whom no orders were made.

“Any issues regarding compliance or non-compliance with a court order by the DSS or the Federal Government cannot be used to vitiate the judicial proceedings the Kaduna State Government has commenced against the El-Zakzakys,’’ she argued.

An eight-count charge was filed against some accused persons on April 19, 2018, including El Zakzaky and his wife, after months of painstaking investigation, which covered a period of about three decades.

According to the commissioner, persons who were accused alongside El-Zakzaky include Yakubu Yahaya Katsina and Sanusi Abdulkadir Koki and they were charged to court for alleged criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide punishable with death and unlawful assembly.

They were also charged with alleged wrongful restraint, disturbance of public peace; voluntarily causing grievous hurt; inciting disturbance, and breach of Public Peace.

The Attorney General recalled that these charges arose following the Zaria clashes of December 12th-24 2015 between the Nigerian Army and El-Zakzaky’s movement.’

“It was the tragic Nadir of the more than 30 years of oppression that Zaria residents had endured at the hands of a movement that had grown accustomed to disregarding the law, disrespecting the human rights of other citizens and inconveniencing members of the public.

“A Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into the Zaria clashes was constituted on 29th January 2016.

“Members of the IMN owe absolute loyalty to Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. He, therefore, bears responsibility for all the acts of lawlessness committed by the organization and should, therefore, be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted.”

The Kaduna State Government then accepted the findings of the Inquiry and commenced the processes for prosecuting  El-Zakzaky and the leadership of his movement.

El-Zakzaky’s Fate Not In The Hands Of El-Rufai, IMN Tells FG

 

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has faulted a statement credited to the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) that the fate of its leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, lies in the hands of the Kaduna State Government and its governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

The movement insists that rather, the Federal Government is complicit in the continuous detention of the IMN leader.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the group’s Spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, said it is not, therefore, possible, under any logical reasoning, to exonerate the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government from the “continued contemptuous detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife”.

The group also alleged that the Federal Government mischievously concocted a case in Kaduna, three years after the illegal detention of the IMN leader and his wife, accusing them of aiding and abetting homicide before the Kaduna State high court.

According to the statement, the case against Sheikh Zakzaky is, therefore, only a mischievous attempt at keeping the revered leader in perpetual illegal detention.

The group, however, calls on the Buhari Government to “stop deceiving the public by trying to paint itself a saint and simply obey the court judgment to free the revered sheikh and stop further false and fake cases with the deliberate intention of keeping him in detention”.

The Statement Reads In Part:

“Firstly, the Federal Government’s criminal complicity in the heinous genocide in Zaria of December, 2015 that led to the extrajudicial murder of over a thousand members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the subsequent arrest and detention of the sheikh is beyond doubt.

This much was accepted and testified to by the general himself in an interview he granted a Qatari television channel while on a visit there as early as March 2016.

The Saudi crown prince’s self-confessions during a visit to the us that the brutal and inhuman suppression and the continuing illegal detention of sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky was part of his major foreign policy achievements further confirm the Federal Government’s involvement, as foreign policy issues are in the exclusive list of the federal government.

Was that not why the Saudi King was the first to call the general Buhari in December 2015, soon after the Zaria genocide, to congratulate him for what he called a victory against terrorism? Was that not also why general Buhari wanted to smuggle Nigeria into a Saudi-led military alliance at the time in the name of fighting terrorism? Was not the then Nigerian Defense Minister, Mansur Dan Ali accorded honor by the Saudi authorities on behalf of the federal government for the role the Nigerian military, an agent of the federal government, played?”

Secondly, the attacks, arrest and subsequent detention of sheikh Zakzaky were by federal government agencies. For the past four years, the department of state security (DSS) took custody of the sheikh and his wife from the army. Nobody is granted access to see him except with the express permission of these federal agents. It even had to take the involvement of the AGF for anyone; even the Kaduna State established judicial commission of inquiry at the time, to access sheikh Zakzaky.

Furthermore, when the federal high court declared the detention of the sheikh and his spouse illegal and unconstitutional and ordered their immediate release from custody forthwith, the order was against the DSS, Nigeria police force and the AGF, all representing the federal government.

The Kaduna State government was never a party in any of these matters. Who is the AGF now fooling that it is purely Kaduna State affair?

IMN Condemns Transfer Of El-Zakzaky, Wife From DSS Custody To Prison

BREAKING: Court Fixes October To Rule On El-Zakzaky's Bail Application
Ibrahim El-Zakzaky addresses reporters in Abuja in January 2018.

 

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has condemned the transfer of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife from the custody of Department of State Security Service to the Kaduna central Correctional Service as ordered today by the state high court.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, noted that any attempt to take El- Zakzaky and his wife to anywhere other than a hospital that is sufficiently equipped to handle their medical needs amounts to punishing them further.

The group also lamented that the facilities at the Kaduna Central Prison where the couple were taken to, are dilapidated.

According to the statement, it was in that very prison that some survivors of the Zaria genocide of December 2015 died due to lack of medical attention.

“It can therefore never be a substitute for appropriately furnished medical facility that can take care of their urgent medical needs,” the statement read in part.

Read Also: Court Orders Transfer Of El-Zakzaky, Wife From DSS Custody To Correctional Facility

Read the full statement below.

*We Are Vehemently Opposed To Subjecting Sheikh Zakzaky To Further Hardships In Whatever Guise*

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria condemns the wicked antics adopted today in court by the Kaduna state government through their prosecuting counsels aimed at humiliating our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and subjecting him to further hardships. These mischievous moves by the Elrufai government were equally meant to ridicule the formidable legal team of the Sheikh, who had consistently defeated their team in all cases thus far, including securing a landmark favourable judgement ordering the immediate release of the ailing Sheikh and his wife, both of whom the government is still detaining in contempt of a competent court order.

It will be recalled that the Kaduna state government had chosen a path of dishonour and shame in charging the Sheikh and his wife for aiding and abetting alleged offences they couldn’t prove in the same court against hundreds of his supporters.

They refused to diligently pursue the case, but rather use one flimsy excuse or the other to delay making any progress in the case because of their knowledge that they don’t have a case against them. When the court granted them medical leave to go and seek urgent medical attention in India, the government had opposed, trying to rather put obstacles on their paths.

Then they attempted to assassinate the Sheikh, with the active connivance of NIA, in India. That too was botched with the Sheikh opting to rather return to Nigeria. Since that return, the Sheikh and his wife have been largely held incommunicado. No contact with their legal representatives was given and only a minimal contact with doctors, and even that only after the Sheikh’s wife took seriously ill in detention.

We, therefore, take a very strong exception to the misinformation in court today that they were being allowed unfettered access to their legal representatives. To rub salt to injury, the prosecuting counsels had requested the court to order the immediate transfer of these very ill persons to the ill-equipped Kaduna Convict Prison rather than to a well-equipped medical facility.

The Kaduna prison is dilapidated and is without any medical facility. It was in that very prison that some survivors of the Zaria genocide of December 2015 died due to lack of medical attention. It can therefore never be a substitute for appropriately furnished medical facility that can take care of their urgent medical needs.

We view any attempt to take Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife to anywhere other than a hospital that is sufficiently equipped to handle their medical needs as punishing them further.

Their absence in court again today is even worrisome, because they were equally absent during the last court session because of what their counsel, Femi Falana, said at that time, was due to their deteriorating health conditions.

We, therefore, vehemently condemn any attempt at further subjecting Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife to more hardship. We reiterate our unequivocal demand for their immediate and unconditional release. We will never waiver or succumb, and will leave no stone unturned in our legitimate demand for his freedom.

SIGNED BY

IBRAHIM MUSA
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM
ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA
SKYPE: Ibrahim.musa42
05/12/2019

Court Orders Transfer Of El-Zakzaky, Wife From DSS Custody To Correctional Facility

BREAKING: Court Fixes October To Rule On El-Zakzaky's Bail Application
Ibrahim El-Zakzaky addresses reporters in Abuja in January 2018.

 

 

A Kaduna state high court sitting in the state capital has ordered that the embattled leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife be transferred from the custody of the DSS to a correctional centre in the state.

The trial judge, Justice Gideon Kudafa in his ruling on Thursday says the decision to remand the IMN leader and his wife in a correctional facility is to enable their lawyers and doctors to have easy access to them.

He, therefore, adjourned the case to February the 6th for the commencement of trial.

The IMN leader is facing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of the public peace, among other charges.

The trial judge, Justice Gideon Kudafa had on March the 26th adjourned the case indefinitely following his appointment as a member of the Election Petition Tribunal in Yobe State.

READ ALSO: Court Orders DSS To Release Sowore, Bakare Within 24 Hours

El-Zakzaky and his wife were not in court during the last proceedings, although their counsel, Femi Falana, claimed that their absence was due to their deteriorated health conditions.

He and his wife (Zeenat) were denied bail by the presiding judge during the last sitting on January 22, 2018.

In the application for bail filed by El Zakzaky’s lawyer, Femi Falana, on his behalf at the last sitting, the legal practitioner prayed the court to give a mandatory order for his client and his wife to be flown abroad.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the court that this was to enable them to receive proper medical attention since the Federal Government has glaringly failed to cure them of the injuries they sustained during the alleged army’s onslaught on their residence in December 2015.

The judge in his ruling, however, ordered that El Zakzaky should be allowed by the government to bring doctors of his choice to examine him in the presence of doctors from the government before the date of the next sitting.

With the absence of the trial judge, Counsel to the IMN leader, Mr. Falana, filed a fresh application at another court of equal jurisdiction on July the 18th asking it to grant his clients leave to seek medical attention abroad and thereafter return for the continuation of their trial.

Consequently, on August the 5th, the presiding judge, Justice Darius Khobo ordered that the IMN leader and his wife be accompanied abroad by officials of the Kaduna State government.

The presiding judge ruled that El-Zakzaky and his wife should proceed to India for medical treatment, after which they will return to Nigeria to face their trial.

Banned IMN Vows To Mark Dec 2015 Remembrance

 

Members of the banned Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) have vowed to hold a procession in remembrance of the December 15, 2015 confrontation with soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State.

A statement issued on Friday by the IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, stressed that no amount of intimidation or harassment by security agencies will stop them from marking the four years remembrance.

He asked the Federal Government to honour a court order and free their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife with immediate effect.

Mr. Musa also condemned the attack by the Police on members of IMN during the Eid-El Maulud procession in Kaduna state on Thursday to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed.

READ ALSO: Kogi Election: Armed Persons Attack Seyi Makinde’s Team In Lokoja

But the Kaduna State Police Command restated that the ban on all forms of processions in the State is still in force and will not hesitate to deal with any person or group of persons who cause disharmony or breach public peace and safety within the ambit of the law.

The command’s spokesman, DSP Yakubu Sabo in a statement, said the IMN members violated the ‘no procession ban’ by carrying out an illegal procession in the Kaduna state capital and Zaria on Thursday.

He explained that some members of the outlawed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were sighted at the Central area of Kaduna Metropolis on Thursday, and operatives promptly responded by dispersing them and ensured public order and safety without any casualty.

16 Dead In Stampede At Iraqi Shiite Shrine – Ministry

Iraqi Shiites in costumes re-enact events of Ashura in the central city of Najaf during the mourning procession on the tenth day of Muharram which marks the day of Ashura, on September 10, 2019. The day of Ashura is commemorated by Shiite Muslims worldwide and marks the climax of mourning rituals in the Islamic month of Muharram for the 7th century killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.

 

At least 16 pilgrims died on Tuesday in a stampede at a major shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala as they were marking the holy day of Ashura, the health ministry said.

Another 75 people were injured at the shrine around 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, said spokesman Saif al-Badr, stressing that the toll was not final.

Hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims swarm Karbala every year to commemorate the death of Hussein, Prophet Mohammad’s grandson.