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Iraq: Shiite Cleric Killed in Shooting Ambush - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BAGHDAD, (AP) – Gunmen killed a Shiite cleric and outspoken critic of sectarian militias in an ambush on a car that also carried the victim’s wife, mother and sister, Iraqi police said Sunday.

The cleric, Haider al-Saymari, was killed Saturday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. His relatives were not harmed, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Al-Saymari, 38, was a follower of Iraq’s top Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a moderate. Al-Saymari was known as a critic of extremists and armed groups in Basra, particularly the Mahdi Army militia of al-Sistani’s rival, radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Saymari had lived and worked in the holy Iranian city of Qom since 1991, but returned to his native Iraq to take part in a Shiite religious ceremony earlier this month.

On Saturday, he was driving back to Iran. In downtown Basra, gunmen firing from a car ambushed al-Saymari’s van, which also carried his relatives. Al-Saymari was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

In other violence on Sunday, assailants attacked police patrols in Baghdad and Baqouba, northeast of the capital.

Gunmen driving an ambulance opened fire on a foot patrol in Baqouba, capital of the turbulent Diyala province, killing three policemen and wounding a bystander, police said.

In Baghdad, back-to-back roadside bombs targeting a police patrol killed three Iraqi civilians and wounded 20, including six police officers, police said.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed in violence since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The number of roadside bombs, suicide attacks and sectarian killings has ebbed in recent months after a U.S. troop buildup, a Shiite militia cease-fire and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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