Iraq's political leaders struck a hopeful tone as they marked five
years since the killing of prominent Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed
Baqir al-Hakim and dozens of others in a car bombing in the holy city
of Najaf in 2003. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from the northern city
Iraq's prime minister and high-level officials
gathered in Baghdad on Saturday to commemorate Iraqis who have been
killed in violence, particularly Ayatollah Hakim.
August of 2003, he and at least 80 worshippers were killed by a car
bomb blast as they left a mosque after Friday prayers.
Hakim was the leader of the main Iraqi Shi'ite group opposed to Saddam
Hussein. He was 64 years old at the time of his death.
ayatollah was considered a relative moderate among the Shi'ite
leadership, and he was sometimes criticized for allowing his followers
to cooperate with the U.S. administration of Iraq.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told officials that cooperation and unity inside Iraq is leading to the nation's renewal.
Maliki said Iraq's government is in the midst of spring, which is a
season traditionally associated with birth and renewal. He said it is
also the spring of the Iraqi military's successful operations.
military has recently led campaigns to clear militants and armed
criminals from Basra in the south, Amarah in the southeast, Mosul in
the north, and eastern Baghdad's Sadr City.
The prime minister
said these operations prove that all of Iraq is united under one
national government and for one national peace.
Mr. Maliki stressed that the government will never stop battling outlaws, criminals and militants.
speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashadani, said the nation
is now mourning its martyrs, but it will soon rejoice when all the
bloodshed gives way to a new and great Iraq.
Mashadani vowed that Iraqis will be able to celebrate the glory of a new Iraq very soon.