Gunmen kill aide to Iraq's most influential cleric; car bomb explodes at al-Jaafari party office

Violence against Shiite Iraqi officials continues growing. The AP reported Friday of killing an aide to Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric.

Shiite cleric Kamal Ezz al-Deen al-Ghuraifi, an aide to leading Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was shot as he was about to leave al-Doreen mosque after leading prayers, according to his son, Hamid Kamal. Police Lt. Thair Mahmoud confirmed the attack. "Gunmen in a speeding car sprayed him with machine guns," Mahmoud said.

Two bodyguards were killed and another four were wounded, he said.

Al-Ghuraifi, in his 60s, had been a Baghdad representative of al-Sistani for the past decade, said Amer al-Hussaini, a friend of al-Ghuraifi's and a member of al-Hawza al-Ilmiyah, the Shiites' ancient seminary in the southern city of Najaf.

It was the third attack on al-Sistani aides in recent weeks. The attack is likely to stoke tensions between the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority, officials said.

Elsewhere in the capital, a car bomb exploded near a checkpoint outside offices of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Islamic Dawa Party, killing one person and injuring at least four more, officials said. Al-Jaafari was not there at the time, party official Ayad al-Nedawi said.

On Tuesday the oldest member of the Iraqi parliament Shiite Dhari Ali al-Fayadh, 87, was killed by a suicide car bomb near Baghdad.

Islamic extremists, such as Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his al-Qaida in Iraq group are determined to start a civil war by attacking Iraqi security forces and members of the country's Shiite majority, reports the AP.

On the photo: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

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