October 10, 2008
Al-Sadr Loyalist Killed in Blast in Baghdad
By ROBERT H REID
By Robert H. Reid
A roadside bomb killed a prominent member of Muqtada al-Sadr's political movement Thursday, raising fears of new internal Shiite bloodshed ahead of regional elections expected in January.
The victims' allies blamed U.S. and Iraqi forces for the blast. Suspicion also fell on Shiite splinter groups - some with suspected links to Iran, which has sheltered al-Sadr for nearly 18 months.
Saleh al-Auqaeili, considered a moderate within al- Sadr's movement, was traveling in a convoy with other Shiite lawmakers when the bombing occurred about 200 yards from an Iraqi army checkpoint in mostly Shiite eastern Baghdad, a colleague said. Al-Auqaeili died at a hospital, Sadrist spokesman Ahmed al-Massoudi said. One commuter on a motorcycle also was killed in the blast, police said.
Al-Sadr's followers have long opposed the U.S. military presence in Iraq, and some of them were quick to blame the Americans and their Iraqi allies, citing the movement's opposition to a U.S.- Iraqi security agreement that has been under negotiation for months. Later, however, the Sadrist political department called the killing a "terrorist act of criminal gangs," a phrase often used to describe renegade Shiite militants that the United States believes are trained and armed by Iran. Tehran denies links to Iraqi Shiite militants.
Originally published by BY ROBERT H. REID.
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