Tight security for annual Shi'ite pilgrimage in Iraq's Kerbala

KERBALA, Iraq, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Shi’ite Muslims gathered in Iraq’s holy city of Kerbala on Monday for the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, Imam Hussein.

Iraqi authorities adopted tight security measures before the procession, during which many Shi’ites walk some 80 km (50 miles) south from Baghdad to Kerbala, with armoured vehicles, soldiers and ambulances escorting the pilgrims.

Large crowds visit the shrines of Hussein and his half-brother Abbas in Kerbala, where they were killed in a revolt against the Umayyad ruler Yazeed in the 7th century A.D.

Upon arrival in Kerbala, the pilgrims paid their respects, patting their heads with their hands as a sign of grief.

Last week, a suicide bomber killed six people near Kerbala in an attack claimed by the hardline Sunni militants of Islamic State. (Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)