As the death toll in Baghdad mounted yesterday, following the stampede at the Shi'ite mosque of Al Kazimiyah yesterday, the Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq said that Catholics in the city were deeply shocked by the tragedy and shared in the grief of their Muslim neighbours. Monsignor Ferdinando Filoni, Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq, said: "Iraqi Catholics extend all our solidarity to the families of victims and all those who suffer, as well as our prayers, as a way to be spiritually close to these people." More than a thousand people are now confirmed dead, and many more are injured, following panic which took place at the crowded Muslim shrine when the rumour spread that suicide bombers were about to attack. Mgr Filoni said: "How terrible that an event of public religious expression has been become such a tragedy. This was to have been one of the first events with which the Shi'ites were to have expressed their religious freedom after years of having been oppressed in the expression of their faith." The day before, he said, he had seen happy crowds of women and young pouring by his residence on their way to the shrine.
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