An angry crowd south of the Iraqi capital has forced former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to cut short a campaign visit to the country's holiest Shi'ite shrine.

Police and journalists say a large crowd at the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf threw sandals and debris at the politician, forcing him to flee.

Gunfire was heard at the site, but there were no reports of casualties. Mr. Allawi, who is campaigning for a seat in parliament, called the incident an assassination attempt.

In other developments, Iraqi authorities say they have foiled an insurgent plot to bomb the trial of Saddam Hussein when it resumes Monday in Baghdad. A government statement said insurgents were planning to fire rockets at the court building.

Meanwhile, police say a roadside bomb attack today in central Baghdad killed two people. Separately, gunmen shot and killed the leader of a Shi'ite mosque in the city.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.