Bus collision kills 18, injures 15 in Iraq

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A total of 18 people were killed and 15 others wounded after two buses carrying Shiite pilgrims collided on Friday night in Iraq’s central province of Salahudin, local sources said on Saturday.

One of the buses heading to the Shiite holy city of Samarra, about 120 km north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, collided with the other bus returning from the city, a traffic police who asked to remain anonymous told Xinhua, adding the accident took place on the main road near the town of Balad, some 80 km north of Baghdad.

Of the victims, 10 are Iranians and two are Iraqis. The rest of the victims have not been identified because their identity cards were not found, said Hasnain Rashid, head of Balad Hospital, adding that the victims include 15 men and three women.

All the injured people were Iranians, he added.

The accident occurred as a result of high speed and one of the drivers losing control of the steering wheel, the police said.

Thousands of Iranian pilgrims are heading to the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of Baghdad, to commemorate the Arbaeen religious ritual.

Arbaeen is the end of 40 days of mourning for Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, who was killed at the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.

The pilgrims usually visit the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra, among other holy places in Iraq, as part of their tour to Karbala.

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