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April 12, 2003
 
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Armed Groups Tell Top Shi'ite Leader to Leave Iraq

Reuters


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KUWAIT (Reuters) - Armed radical groups have surrounded the house of Iraq's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric in the central city of Najaf, giving him 48 hours to leave the country, a top aide to the cleric said on Sunday.

"Armed thugs and hooligans have had the house of (Grand) Ayatollah (Ali) Sistani under siege since yesterday. They have told him to either leave Iraq in 48 hours or they would attack," Kuwait-based Ayatollah Abulqasim Dibaji told Reuters.

"Total terror reigns in Najaf. They have told other ayatollahs to leave too," Dibaji said.

"This is the biggest catastrophe for Najaf," he said. The city of Najaf is a holy Shi'ite city in central Iraq where Sistani and many other spiritual leaders live."

Dibaji said the house was surrounded by members of Jimaat-e-Sadr-Thani, a splinter group led by Moqtada Sadr, the 22-year-old son of a late spiritual leader in Iraq.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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