At least 27 killed in mortar blast as Sistani proposes new peace initiative
A mortar attack on the main mosque in the city of Kufa, near Najaf, killed 27 people and injured 60 others Thursday, hospital officials and witnesses said.
Hussam al-Husseini, an aide to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said one mortar shell hit the mosque itself and two others hit near the mosque gates.
Ambulances carried scores of wounded to the hospital in Kufa.
Meanwhile, heavy fighting persisted in Najaf's Old City, the center of many of the clashes that pitted fighters loyal to al-Sadr against a combined Iraqi-U.S. force. Late Wednesday, U.S. warplanes bombed the area for the fourth night in a row and fierce skirmishes broke out.
Late Wednesday, Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini Al-Sistani, who wields enormous influence among Shiite Iraqis, proposed a new peace initiative, calling for Najaf and Kufa to be declared weapons-free cities, for all foreign forces to pullout from Najaf and leave security to the police and for the Iraqi government to compensate those harmed by the fighting there, according the al-Sistani aide Hamed al-Khafaf, The AP reported. (albawaba.com)
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