17 killed at Sherif Ali Mosque: Hakim assasinated
Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
At least 17 people have been killed by a car bomb in the holy city of Najaf - among them leading Shia Muslim politician Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim.
The bomb blew up near the Tomb of Ali in the central Iraqi city, one of the holiest shrines for Shia Muslims, just as main weekly prayers were ending.
No group has admitted carrying out the attack.
But correspondents say that a power struggle has been going on within what is known as the Hawza - the Shia religious establishment based in Najaf.
Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim was leaving the shrine after saying Friday prayers when the bomb went off
Very bad news. Hakim was one of the main faction leaders and his death could very well drive many people into the arms of Sadr, especially if the Baathists killed him. This is a major blow to US policy in Iraq.
Staff and agencies
Friday August 29, 2003
Up to 17 people have been killed and dozens more injured in a car bombing in the Iraqi town of Najaf, al-Arabiya satellite television reported today
The explosion took place at the Imam Ali mosque, the most holy shrine for Shiite Muslims in Iraq, as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.
The report, monitored by the Associated Press in Baghdad, could not immediately be confirmed. But there has been considerable unrest among the religious communities in the holy city, which lies 110 miles south-west of Baghdad.
The reported bombing comes one week after a device exploded outside the house of one of Iraqi's most important Shiite clerics, killing three guards and injuring 10 others including family members.
A gas cylinder, which had been placed along the outside wall of the home of Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim in Najaf, exploded just after noon prayers July 22.
The Al-Hakims are one of the most influential families in the Shiite community in Iraq, and Iraqi newspapers reported two weeks ago that the cleric had received threats against his life
In other news:
Earlier, an American soldier was killed and four others wounded in an ambush north of Baghdad, and the police chief in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, the US military said.
Insurgents fired three rocket-propelled grenades at a support convoy on a main road north-east of Baqouba.
The soldiers were also hit by small arms fire. One of the wounded soldiers will need to have a leg amputated, said Captain David Nelson from the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade.
The death raised the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq to 282.
OK, a second attempt on Hakim (more like 11th, really), but at the Sherif Ali mosque?
Sadr would have to be clinically insane to risk such a naked attack. And given that it's a car bomb, something his people have shown no skill in making, that has the feel of Saddam's boys. Propane tank, ok, but a car bomb? Nope. Someone has to teach you how to make one and the only folks who can teach him, Hezbollah, sure as shit are not going to blow up the Sherif Ali mosque.
What this does is show the Shia that the Americans will not and cannot protect them. In a rather flagrant manner.
If the Americans can't prevent the bombing of the holiest site in Shia Islam, why are they in Iraq?
posted by Steve @ 9:03:00 AM