An Ahmedabad couple just back from pilgrimage in Iraq says they escaped death only by the grace of the Almighty during the 15 days they spent in the country, including in areas under attack from the Sunni insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Muniruddin Tirmizi (64) and his wife Zahura Begum (54), were among 14 families from Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Dholka and Palitana who went to Iraq on June 1 for ziyarat with the help of Ahmedabad-based private tour operator Safar Tours and Travels. The hotel in which the Gujarati tourists stayed in Baghdad came under a terror attack soon after they had left for Karbala, they said.
“The horror is etched in my memory and it will remain in my mind forever. The sounds of machine guns, tankers and crude bombs was something that we had so far experienced only in movies. But this was like meeting death in person. As we cowered in our hotel, military aircraft roared overhead,” Muniruddin, a retired GSRTC employee, said.
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On the journey from Karbala to Najaf, the tourists were repeatedly asked at checkpoints if they were Sunni or Shia. “We told them we were Sunnis if they were Sunnis, and told them we are Shias if they were Shias. That’s how we could save our lives,” Muniruddin said.