A mortar attack killed scores worshiping at a mosque in the city of Kufa. Hospitals in the area reported being overwhelmed by the number of wounded
and dead. The mosque is a stronghold of the militant cleric Al Sadr. A spokesperson for the the cleric placed blane on US Troops.
KUFA, Iraq - A mortar barrage hit the main mosque in the Iraqi city of Kufa on Thursday, killing 27 people and wounding 63 others as they prepared to
march on the violence-wracked city of Najaf, hospital officials and witnesses said.
Thousands of people were crowded around the mosque at the time and dead bodies lay around the mosque compound, which is a stronghold of followers of
radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, witnesses said.
Hussam al-Husseini, an al-Sadr aide, said one mortar shell hit the mosque compound itself and two others hit near the mosque gates. Others gave
conflicting accounts of the number of explosions.
Mohammed AbdelKhadum, an official at al-Furat al-Awsat hospital in Kufa, said 27 people were killed and 63 injured. The morgue overflowed with bodies,
and more than a dozen corpses had to be stored in the hospital's garden.
Later, gunmen opened fire on thousands of Shiite marchers heading from Kufa to the twin city of Najaf, killing at least one, witnesses said. The
gunfire came from a base between the two cities housing Iraqi national guardsmen and U.S. troops, witnesses said. An Associated Press reporter on the
scene saw at least one body.
It was unclear who fired the mortars. U.S. forces have battled Shiite insurgents loyal to al-Sadr in neighboring Najaf and sporadically in Kufa for
three weeks. Each side blamed the other for Thursday's mortar barrage.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Its not a surprising move by Al Sadrs forces. Attacking civilians at a mosque and then blame the US in an attempt to gain support and sympathy for
his cause. With the return of Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini Al-Sistani, Al Sadr may be trying to consoldate his position. Al-Sistani is reportedly
heading for Najaf in a heavily armored convoy to try to end the conflict peacefully
[edit on 8-26-2004 by Valhall]
[edit on 8-27-2004 by Valhall]