Skip to comments.Iraqi Cleric Al-Sadr Unharmed by Mortar
Posted on 03/26/2006 9:00:32 AM PST by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A mortar round slammed to earth near Muqtada al-Sadr's home Sunday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, but the popular anti-American cleric was not hurt, an aide said.
Also Sunday, the Iraqi army said it had dispatched troops to investigate a report that 30 beheaded corpses were found in a village north of Baghdad. Brig. Saman Talabani, commander of the Iraqi Army 2nd Battalion, said the bodies were reported by residents in Mullah Eid, a village near the town of Buhriz, a former Saddam Hussein stronghold about 35 miles north of Baghdad.
A child and at least one guard were wounded in the Najaf attack, which hit some 165 feet from al-Sadr's home, according to police and al-Sadr aide Sheik Sahib al-Amiri. The aide said al-Sadr was home but was not injured.
Iraqi troops sealed the area and the cleric's Mahdi Army militia surrounded the home after the attack, al-Amiri said. Al-Sadr lives near the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, about 90 miles south of Baghdad.
Shortly after the attack, the cleric issued a statement calling for calm.
"I call upon all brothers to stay calm, and I call upon Iraqi army to protect the pilgrims as the Nawasib (militants) are aiming to attack Shiites everyday," he said ahead of Wednesday's commemoration marking the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
Najaf police chief called the assault a "cowardly attack" by those still loyal to Saddam Hussein aimed at dividing the Iraqi people.
"But this will not happen," Maj. Gen. Abbas Mi'adal told reporters near al-Sadr's home. "We are ready to confront any terrorist schemes and protect the pilgrims."
At least 10 Iraqis were killed in violence elsewhere, including a 13-year-old boy killed by a bomb as he walked to school in the southern city of Basra. Police also found 11 handcuffed and bullet-riddled bodies dumped in Baghdad and two in the city of Baqouba.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, said the U.S. could withdraw a significant number of troops from Iraq this year if Iraqi forces are able to assume greater control of the country's security.
"I think it's entirely probable that we will see a significant drawdown of American forces over the next year. ... It's all dependent on events on the ground," the chief American diplomat said Sunday, echoing military commanders.
Just this past week, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declined to predict when U.S. forces would be out of Iraq. President Bush has said that decision would be up to a future U.S. president and a future Iraqi government.
Rice, on NBC's "Meet the Press," noted that Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, "has talked about a significant reduction of American forces over the next year. And that significant reduction is because Iraqi forces are taking and holding territory now."
There were conflicting reports about Sunday's attack in Najaf, which came a day after the cleric's Mahdi Army militia forces battled with Sunni insurgents near Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of the capital. Seven people most civilians killed in their homes by mortar fire died in the gunbattle and several others were wounded.
Al-Sadr's aide said two mortar rounds fell near the home Sunday, wounding two guards and the child, while the police chief said it was just one mortar round that wounded one guard and the child.
Al-Sadr, who routinely blames the United States for the violence that has beset the country, said American troops were trying to drag Iraqis into "sectarian wars."
"I call upon my brothers not to be trapped by the Westerners' plots," he said.
Al-Sadr is a major force among Shiites, especially in Baghdad's Sadr City slum. His powerful militia is accused of carrying out sectarian revenge killings against Sunnis after the Feb. 22 bombing of an important Shiite shrine in Samarra.
The cleric, who was on a regional tour when the Samarra attack on the shrine took place, cut short his visit and came back "in order for the country not to be pulled to street battles. I wanted to salvage the Iraqi people from these problems."
Al-Sadr has close ties to Iran. His militia launched two uprisings against U.S. troops in 2004.
The bomb that killed the teenage boy was placed in front of his school in Basra, near the Iranian border southeast of Baghdad. It went off in the morning as children were arriving for classes, police said. The school week begins Sunday and runs through Thursday in Iraq, where Friday is the day of prayer for Muslims.
The attack was the latest in a startling increase of violence targeting regular Iraqi citizens.
A bomb also exploded in front of a house in central Baghdad, killing one woman and wounding two of her sisters and a man next door. And a truck driver was gunned down in west Baghdad, police said.
Drive-by shooters killed three teenagers and wounded another standing outside a house in south Baghdad's Dora district, police said.
Meanwhile, Iraq's national security ministry issued a statement warning citizens of the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Yarmouk that insurgents were placing explosives in boxes of candy.
In other violence Saturday, according to police:
Security guards for the Iraqi finance minister were attacked while driving in western Baghdad before they had picked up the minister. One guard was killed, and a bystander was wounded.
Gunmen killed a policeman and his cousin as they walked north of Baqouba.
A farmer was killed in Buhriz.
Security guards for the Baqouba mayor were wounded in a bomb attack on their way to pick up the mayor.
Baghdad police Lt. Col. Ahmed Fadhil was being treated for multiple gunshot wounds after being attacked on his way to work.
try harder next time.
We should all pitch in and buy this book for the mortarman:
If it was our guys, they wouldn't have missed.
Missed him by THAT much!!
Why they let this piece of sub-human scum live this long is beyond me. Why is it the USA has forgotten how to fight wars???
Hmmm, they just needed to throw in this paragraph, which has nothing to do with anything else in the article.
Awww. I figured he'd be thrilled if he'd been killed, with the 72 virgins and all waiting for him....or are the virgins just for the suicide bombers?
How very unfortunate.
Candygram for Mooki..
I just read on another site the mortar was fired from a house in Sadr's neighborhood...
I'm sure they all look the same to you, but Fallujah is a Sunni stronghold, whereas Al-Sadr is a Shi'ite, from Najaf. Of all the things you can blame Al-Sadr for, Fallujah is not one of them.
This was an up close and personal attempt... the shooters were inside his neighborhood. Mookie has a security problem in his crib..
Works for me.
I wish they'd let me go to Najaf...and just let me have one shot...
Not close enought . . .
Yet . . .
Al-Sadr is severely annoyed by this act of violence. He is also learning that it is much harder to stop than to start violence. He was already depressed, but now he is feeling stages of advanced alienation and dyspepsia.
Find whoever did this and give him a bigger bomb.
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