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Middle East
Baghdad bombed ahead of funeral
String of car bombs explode in capital ahead of funeral of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim.
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2009 15:12 GMT
Iraqi forces tightened security ahead of the
funeral of al-Hakim 
[Reuters]

At least one person has been killed and 22 others wounded after a string of car bombs exploded in Baghdad as Iraqi forces tightened security ahead of the funeral of a top Shia leader.

The bombs mainly targeted Iraqi troops in the city and a northern suburb, officials said, raising concerns about whether Iraqi forces can provide adequate security when thousands of people converge to mourn the death of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim.

The deadliest bombing on Thursday struck at about 11am near a US military base close to Taji, north of Baghdad, killing one person and wounding six others, an Iraqi police official said.

Hours earlier, three bombs attached to parked cars exploded in Baghdad's primarily Sunni neighbourhood of Azamiyah, wounding four police officers and two civilians.

Security concerns

Two more bombings struck later in the day in different parts of the Iraqi capital, wounding 10, police said.

The blasts are the latest in a string of attacks in the Iraqi capital, which was the scene last week of two devastating suicide truck bombings that targeted the foreign and finance ministries and killed about 100 people.

The body of al-Hakim, who died Wednesday in Tehran of lung cancer, was scheduled to be returned to Iraq on Friday.

The funeral procession was expected to start in Baghdad and make stops in several cities in Iraq's southern provinces before burial in the Shia holy city of Najaf.

Mourning period

Condolences were painted on black banners that hung from the main streets in Najaf, and hundreds gathered near al-Hakim's office and his family home to pay respects.

The government announced a three-day mourning period, beginning Thursday.

Al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), was one of Iraq's most powerful Shia parties and helped to establish an opposition movement in 1982 while in exile in Iran to fight the Sunni-dominated government of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's executed former leader.

He spent nearly two decades in Iran during Hussein's rule and returned after the US-led invasion of 2003.

Source:
Agencies
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