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Mortar Attack in Al-Kufah Leaves Many Dead

26 August 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say a mortar attack on the main mosque in the Iraqi city of Al-Kufah today left many dead and injured.

Witnesses said the mosque was crowded at the time of the attack. The reports said one mortar shell hit the mosque itself, and at least one hit near the mosque's gates.

An unnamed Interior Ministry spokesman and doctors in Al-Kufah said at least 25 people were killed and around 60 injured in the attack.

It was not clear who fired the mortars.

Kufa is adjacent to Al-Najaf, where militia loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and U.S. forces have been fighting for several weeks.

Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Ali al-Sistani is on his way to Al-Najaf today to try and end the standoff. Al-Sistani today called on his followers converging on Al-Najaf to wait outside the city until he arrives.