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Iraqis Mourn Death of Shi'ite Leader


Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad Friday amid tight security to mourn the death of Shi'ite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

Hakim's body arrived in Iraq for burial, two days after he died in neighboring Iran from lung cancer.

During a ceremony at the Baghdad airport, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Hakim's loss comes at a "sensitive" time for Iraq. Parliamentary elections there are set for January.

Hakim headed Iraq's largest Shi'ite political party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council. His death comes just days after Prime Minister Maliki's Dawa party split from a Shi'ite coalition that has dominated Iraq's government since 2005. On Friday, Hakim's son, Ammar al-Hakim, called on parties that decided not to join the coalition to reconsider their stance.

Security was tight around Shi'ite mosques, shrines and political party offices in Baghdad during the massive funeral procession, which is expected to end with Hakim's burial in the southern holy city of Najaf.

Separately, the U.S. military in Iraq said two U.S. soldiers died from wounds suffered in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad early Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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