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Shi'a Leader Says Iraq Won't Be Drawn Into Civil War

22 January 2005 -- The leading candidate in a Shi'a alliance expected to dominate Iraq's 30 January national elections says his community will not be dragged into a civil war despite a series of bloody attacks on it.

Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, today told the Reuters news agency that Jordanian-born militant Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi was leading a campaign to try to divide Shi'ites and Sunnis but would not succeed.

Al-Hakim survived last month's suicide-bomb attack on his party's headquarters, for which al-Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility.

In the latest attacks on Shi'ites, a suicide car bombing at a wedding party south of Baghdad killed at least 11 people, and a blast outside a Shi'a mosque in Baghdad killed 14 yesterday.


[For news, background, and analysis on Iraq's historic 30 January elections, see RFE/RL's webpage "Iraq Votes 2005".]