A bomb hit a convoy carrying lawmakers loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Thursday in Baghdad, seriously injuring a senior member of the Shiite bloc, officials said. He later died of his wounds. The blast occurred as Saleh al-Auqaeili car passed about 200 meters away from an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Habibiyah area near Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City, according to one of his colleagues.
According to the AP, Al-Auqaeili is a senior member of al-Sadr political bloc, which has 30 seats in the 275-member parliament.
Another Sadrist lawmaker said al-Auqaeili was known for his peaceful stance, as opposed to more militant factions in the movement that promoted violence.
Falah Hassan Shanshal, who was riding in a different car in the same convoy, said the group became suspicious when discovering there were no traffic jams in the usually crowded area.
"The operation was a pre-planned one. We are waiting for the investigation and its results," he said. "What made us suspicious was that the explosion took place near a checkpoint and it was a remote-controlled explosion. The area is supposed to be a protected one." Shanshal also demanded a government investigation into how the roadside bomb was planted so close to the checkpoint.
Iraqi police initially said the blast was caused by a motorcycle bomb. But Shanshal said the explosives had been planted in a hole dug into a nearby sidewalk. He said a man on a motorcycle was killed, causing the confusion over the cause of the blast.