President Mbeki Extends Condolences to Iraq following Stampede in Baghdad

Tshwane- President Thabo Mbeki today, Wednesday 31 August 2005, extended South Africa's sympathies to President of the Transitional National Authority of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, following the deaths of over 600 pilgrims at the Shiite shrine in Baghdad today.

"The South African Government joins the international community in expressing shock and sadness at the deaths of over 600 pilgrims at the Shiite shrine in Baghdad earlier today.

"During these difficult moment, the thoughts and prayers of the government and people of South Africa reach out to the people of Iraq and in particular families of those who lost their loved ones, while wishing those wounded a speedy recovery.

"It is indeed regrettable that so many pilgrims lost their lives while partaking in the peaceful act of worship. We express our conviction that all people have an inalienable right to worship without fear or favour.

"Accordingly, the South African Government extends its heartfelt condolences to the Iraqi Transitional National Authority and specifically members of the bereaved families during this hour of need", concluded President Mbeki.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa at 082-990-4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

31 August 2005.

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