Najaf under curfew as supporters vent anger at police, politicians
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: Thousands of followers of Muqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Najaf on Friday to attend a funeral procession for senior aide Riyadh al-Nuri, who was assassinated in the Shiite holy city earlier in the day. Al-Nuri, the director of al-Sadr’s office in Najaf, was gunned down as he drove home after attending Friday prayers in the adjacent city of Kufa. The mourners chanted slogans against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa party and its ally, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. The mourners pelted the compound of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council with stones. The protesters also intended to attack a police vehicle, but they were prevented from doing so by clerics taking part in the funeral.
ABDUL-HADI AL-MUHAMMADAWI, SENIOR AIDE TO MUQTADA AL-SADR (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): May the hands of occupiers perish because, one way or the other, they have a hand in this heinous crime. His Eminence Muqtada al-Sadr also calls for calm and for people not to be dragged into any strife because our enemies are seeking, one way or the other, to drag us into a strife that we do not want.
NKWETA: Authorities immediately announced a citywide curfew, and security forces were seen deploying on the streets, which threatened to raise tensions amid a violent standoff between Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia and the US-backed Iraqi government. In Baghdad, meanwhile, Iraqi police said that three people were killed and seven injured when a rocket, apparently aimed at the US-protected Green Zone, crashed into the Palestine Hotel, blowing a hole in the wall. Police said the victims were mainly pedestrians on the street below.
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