IRAQ: Who is attacking the Shiite clerics?
Since the shooting of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's senior aide Riyadh Noori last Friday in Najaf, a series of assassination attempts has been launched around southern Iraq against clerics associated with the country's senior Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
On Tuesday night, an aide to Sistani in Basra, Ali Fadhil, was wounded by gunmen. His driver died later from his injuries. Today, another cleric, Sheikh Ali Khafagi, was wounded near his house in Basra, sources from Sistani's office said.
A third Sistani cleric, Hadeeb Khateeb, escaped an ambush late Tuesday in Numaniya in Wasit province, southeast of Baghdad. The incidents come amid rising Shiite poltiical violence ahead of October local elections. At least five Sistani aides were killed last year as Shiite tensions steadily mounted.
— From the Baghdad bureau