Five dead in attack on home of Iraq cleric

samarra, Iraq — Two women were among five people killed in an attack on the home of a Muslim cleric in the central Iraqi city of Samarra, police said Wednesday, pointing the finger at loyalists of Al Qaeda.

By (AFP)

Published: Wed 30 Nov 2011, 2:09 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:45 AM

‘Five people, two of them women, were killed around 10 pm (1900 GMT) on Tuesday,’ a Samarra police commander said.

‘Armed men attacked the home of Shaikh Khalid Al Naisani, killing him, his wife, their 17-year-old son and two other people who were at his house,’ the commander said, adding the attack was ‘probably the work of Al Qaeda members.’

The 2006 bombing of the gold-domed shrine of revered ninth-century Shia imam Hassan Al Askari, which draws pilgrims to Samarra from around the world, unleashed the worst sectarian violence in the history of Iraq, in which tens of thousands were killed.

But the police commander said the Shaikh slain in Tuesday’s attack in the city north of Baghdad was a Sunni and that it was not a sectarian killing.

The deaths came just weeks before US troops are due to a complete a withdrawal from Iraq that has raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to maintain security.

The end-of-year pullout brings to a close an almost nine-year war that has left thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead, and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

Violence has declined nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common. A total of 258 people were killed in October, according to official figures.

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