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Holy Pilgrimage Ends In Mass Funeral In Iraq

March 7, 2007

What began as a holy pilgrimage, ended as a mass funeral, for more than 100 Shi'ite families. And amid the burials more bloodshed.

At least 11 Shi'ites were killed in a fresh wave of attacks as they make their way towards Karbala for a religious holiday this weekend. Now, pilgrims are greeted by extra security forces, lining the road into the city south of Baghdad.

Officials in Karbala say, they've deployed some 10 thousand police officers trying to keep Shi'ites safe, as they prepare to mark one of their holiest weekends.

The non-stop attacks in the war-torn country will be at the center of a weekend summit in Baghdad. The White House was quick to confirm that the U.S. will be attending.

Now leaders from Iran say, they'll be there too. It will be the first encounter between U.S. and Iranian envoys, since 2004, and it comes as the White House takes a harder line on Iran, insisting that the country is backing militants in Iraq.

Iranian leaders say they have some concerns about attending the global meeting but they insist it sends a clear message that neighboring countries are standing beside Iraq during its struggle for security.

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