Gunmen give top Shiite cleric 48 hrs to leave

  • Agence France-Presse, PTI, Kuwait City
  • |
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2003 15:18 IST

Gunmen in the holy city of Najaf have surrounded the house of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, and ordered him to leave the country, a cleric in Kuwait said on Sunday.

"Armed groups in Najaf... are threatening Imam Sistani... and demanding he leave Iraq within 48 hours," Mohammed Baqr Musawi al-Muhri said in a statement.

"This group rallied yesterday (Saturday) in front of Imam Sistani's house, shouting 'Live, Live al-Sadr,' and demanding Sistani leave."

Ayatollah Mohammed Sadek al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shiite dignitary, was assassinated in 1999 by Saddam Hussein's regime, sparking major riots in Najaf, one of the holiest cities for Shiite Muslims.

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