Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s cabinet is not exclusive to clerics and Muslims, said the outspoken leader's chief public relations officer Shaikh Hasan al-Zirqawi on Sunday.

But the rival cabinet must be under Muslim religious supervision, said al-Zirqawi.

In his last Friday sermon in the southern town of Kufa, al-Sadr announced the formation of a rival cabinet to that installed by the US-appointed Governing Council.

“I have decided and I have formed a government made up of several ministries, including ministries of justice, finance, information, interior, foreign affairs, (religious) endowments and the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice,” he said.

Al-Sadr called on those who supported his cabinet to demonstrate peacefully.

Al-Sadr heads the Mahdi army militia, made up of thousands of supporters.

He was ignored by the US occupying administration in the formation of a Governing Council, on which he is not represented.

The Council was created along sectarian and ethnic lines.

Police attacked

Meanwhile, a grenade carried by an Iraqi apparently detonated early, wounding a policeman and civilian on Sunday in an attempted attack against a police checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Shia Muslims increasingly opposing
US-led occupation

The attacker, identified as Ghalab Nasr al-Din, 32, died when the grenade he evidently planned to hurl at the police post, blew up in his hands, according to local police chief Lieutenant Colonel Adal Zein al-Din.
 
The police chief said the attack was the latest in a series targeting local police and aimed at destabilising Kirkuk.

An Iraqi policeman also died overnight of wounds sustained in an attack on a police checkpoint in Kirkuk, said police.
  
Officer Muhammad Ghafur, 45, was wounded last Wednesday when attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the checkpoint, killing another policeman.

Iraqi police are increasingly coming under attack, including last week’s deadly strike against a Baghdad police station which left about eight people dead.