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It is held to mourn the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Husayn, in 680 AD, during the Battle of Karbala.–
The 10-day festival is observed by both Sunni and Shia sects, although self-harm is discouraged by some Shia leaders who say it creates a negative image of Islam.
The Ashura ritual takes part across the Middle East.
THE 10-DAY FESTIVAL IS OBSERVED BY BOTH SUNNI AND SHIA SECTS
Shocking images from this year’s ritual show streets in Iraq soaked with blood and youngsters posing with knives, spears and chains.
The worshippers’ white robes are splattered with blood and many have open wounds on the tops of their heads.
Those not carrying out the brutal acts slap their chests, chant, and act in street plays.
Shiite Afghans flagellate themselves with chains during a mourning procession commemorating Ashura.
It is also common to combine the rituals with a pilgrimage to the Mashhad al-Husyn in Iraq, which is thought to be the resting place of the Prophet’s grandson.
But the annual ceremony is also often targeted by Islamic extremists, and this year is no exception.
Many of the worshippers have open wounds on the tops of their heads
Police cordoned off the area and were investigating the blasts, which they said were caused by improvised explosive devices. It was unclear who carried out the attack.
Ashura is marked as a public holiday in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Pakistan