More than one million Iraqis marched and beat themselves Thursday in blood-soaked processions through this holy city and other Shi'ite centers around the country to mourn the 7th century death of their revered martyr, Imam Hussein.
Swept by a thick yellow sand storm, mass processions choked Karbala's wide streets as more than 8,000 security forces and additional militiamen prevented terrorist attacks that have rocked Ashoura ceremonies over the past two years, killing more than 230 people.
Karbala police chief Brig. Razzaq Abid Ali al-Taei said up to 2 million people either marched in drum banging and flag waving parades or watched on as the teeming crowd moved by.
"The ceremony has ended with no security violations, except for one rocket being launched at noon from an area west of Karbala and fell in a field 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the east," al-Taei. "No one was hurt and some Iraqi suspects were arrested."
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims began several days ago descending on Karbala, where Hussein is believed buried, for ceremonies marking Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic lunar calendar.
The United States military has been using unmanned, unarmed aerial drones to provide an overhead view of processions.