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Thousands of Iraqis Mourn Powerful Shi'ite Leader


Thousands of Iraqis lined the streets of Najaf Saturday as a coffin carrying the body Abdul Aziz al-Hakim wound its way through the city of his birth to his final resting place.

Many tried to touch the flag-draped coffin of the powerful Shi'ite leader as it slowly moved through the streets, while others wept and held his picture.

The 59-year-old al-Hakim, who died of lung cancer in Tehran Wednesday, led the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) and was seen as a key figure in crafting Iraq's future.

Al-Hakim worked against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein while living in exile in Iran for more than 20 years before the U.S. toppled Hussein in 2003.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Najaf Saturday to attend the funeral procession and offered his condolences to Iraqis

Later, Mottaki traveled to Baghdad, where he met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and condemned recent terror attacks in Iraq, saying such violence threatens the security of the entire region.

Iraqi police say two separate suicide car bombings in northern Iraq Saturday killed at least 15 people and wounded at least 30 others.

Police say the first attack took place in the town of Shirqat. They say a car bomber targeted a police station killing at least nine people and wounding several others.

The second attack came about two hours later in the town of Sinjar near Mosul where several people were killed when a car-bomb exploded.

The attacks are the latest in a rash of violence in Iraq, particularly in the north, where security is not as tight as elsewhere.

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

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