BAGHDAD, Iraq – Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has ordered an investigation into last week's U.S.-Iraqi raid of a major Sunni Muslim mosque in Baghdad, his office said Monday.
The raid Friday on the Abu Hanifa mosque (search) left three people dead and was followed by a wave of attacks in several parts of Baghdad. The raid enraged many in Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which already feels threatened by the U.S.-led attack on Fallujah and the arrest of several outspoken clerics.
A statement by the prime minister's office said Allawi, a Shiite Muslim, conferred Sunday with Sunni officials on several issues, including the Abu Hanifa raid.
"The prime minister shared [their] concern and said that although there had been reports of terrorist activity around the mosque, mistakes appeared to have been made and that he had ordered a full investigation," the statement said.
The Abu Hanifa mosque, which has long been associated with anti-American agitation, is located in the Azamiyah district (search) of Baghdad, a predominantly Sunni area. A day after the raid, U.S. and Iraqi forces fought running gunbattles with Sunni insurgents in Azamiyah and elsewhere in the city.
Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (search), condemned the raid on Abu Hanifa, his spokesmen said.
"The raid on Abu Hanifa mosque is unacceptable and we denounce and condemn this action," spokesman Hamed al-Khafaf told Al-Manar, the television station of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement. "Abu Hanifa mosque is a sacred place and a scientific university and they have to deal with it on this basis like other sacred places."
An official in al-Sistani's office in the Iraqi holy city Najaf, Sheik Besheer, confirmed the ayatollah's condemnation of the raid.
The Iraqi government has warned that Islamic clerics who incite violence will be considered as "participating in terrorism." Some already have been arrested, including members of the Sunni clerical Association of Muslim Scholars.