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Top Iraq Cleric Appeals For Unity After Stampede

1 September 2005 -- Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani appealed for national unity and restraint after the stampede tragedy, which killed nearly 1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims yesterday on a Baghdad bridge.

Some officials accused insurgents, who get much of their support from the Sunni community, of causing the stampede by shouting warnings about suicide bombers. However, there was no proof any rebels were on the bridge at the time.

Hamid Khaffaf, Sistani's spokesman in the holy southern city of Al-Najaf, called upon all Iraqis to maintain unity.

A radical Shi'ite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr offered his condolences to the victims' families.

The stampede occurred amid heightened tensions between Iraq's Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish communities as political leaders remain divided over the draft of a new constitution.


See also:

"Three Days Of Mourning For 1,000 Stampede Victims"