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Iranians told to avoid making pilgrimages to Iraqi holy sites

Ilam, Aug 10, IRNA -- Iranians desiring to go on pilgrimages to holy shrines in Iraq should, for the time being, avoid traveling to the country until further notice, warned a local official in the western capital city of Ilam on Tuesday.

Iraqi holy cities are not safe now because of renewed clashes in in these cities, said the governor of the border city Mehran, Sadeq Lotfi.

He made the request notwithstanding the fact that the city has not closed its borders to international migration.

Mehran international borderpoint is a major entry point for Iranians and Iraqis crossing into each other's territories to visit religious sites.

An estimated 10,000 Iranian and Iraqi pilgrims cross over into the other's territory through Mehran borderpoint on a daily basis.

A cease-fire which seemed to be taking effect for over a month was broken Thursday when fresh fighting erupted between fighters loyal to Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and forces of the Iraqi interim government forces guarding the south of the country.

Massive explosions and gunshots were heard in the holy city of Najaf and Sadr city, the Shi'ite district in the capital Baghdad as well as other Iraqi cities.

Over 380 Iraqis have died since the clashes erupted on Thursday.

... Payvand News - 8/10/04 ... --

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