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Tight Security in Karbala for Shi'ite Festival After Zarqawi Threat

Thousands of Iraqi police and troops are on high alert in the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered for a Shi'ite religious festival.

Officials closed the city to cars Friday to prevent car bomb attacks. North of Karbala, two car bombers killed eight people, including seven police officers, on a road linking the city to Baghdad.

Celebrations begin Monday marking the birthday more than 11 centuries ago of a revered Shi'ite leader, Imam Mehdi. Pilgrims are pouring in even though al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared war on Shi'ites last week.

Further south, two Iraqis were killed in violence that erupted after Iraqi authorities detained two British soldiers in Basra.

In a separate development, one of Saddam Hussein's nephews was sentenced to life in prison for bomb-making and funding the country's insurgency.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.