Sunni Cleric Shot Dead in Baghdad

Published February 21, 2004

| Associated Press

Sunni Muslim (search) cleric was shot dead Saturday after he left a mosque in the Iraqi capital, a spokesman for a religious group said.

Sheik Dhamer al-Dhari (search) was walking down a street near his mosque when gunmen opened fire from a car, killing him, according to Sheik Mohammed al-Faidhy, spokesman of the Association of Muslim Scholars.

Al-Dhari was not a prominent member of the association, but his half-brother, Hareth al-Dhari, serves as the organization's secretary-general.

Last week, the Association of Muslim Scholars (search) issued a statement saying that "no one in his right mind" would reject elections in principle "but at the same time we don't want to have nominal or hasty elections and pay a hefty price for that."

Many Sunnis have opposed calls by the rival Shiite Muslim clergy for early legislative elections in Iraq.

Al-Faidhy, the association spokesman, said he expected more such attacks in the run-up to the scheduled June 30 transfer of sovereignty from the U.S.-run coalition to an Iraqi leadership as different groups compete for power.

"We expect ... that Iraq would witness many such operations to create chaos and kindle strife," he said.

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