| Moqtada al-Sadr in Kufa on Friday. (Reuters)
Baghdad, Nov. 24 (Agencies): Revenge-seeking Shia militiamen grabbed six Sunnis after they had finished their prayers, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near an Iraqi army post.
The soldiers did not intervene, Captain Jamil Hussein said.
The savage revenge attack for yesterday’s slaughter of 215 people in the Shia Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mehdi Army militia burned four mosques and several homes while killing 24 other Sunni residents in the Hurriyah neighbourhood of Baghdad, Hussein said. Two children, aged eight and 14, and a woman were killed.
Gunmen loyal to radical anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr began imposing their presence in the neighbourhood this summer and a majority of its Sunni residents had already fled.
The militiamen attacked and burned the Ahbab al-Mustafa, Nidaa Allah, al-Muhaimin and al-Qaqaqa mosques in the rampage that did not end until American forces arrived, Hussein said.
The gunmen attacked with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), heavy machine guns and automatic rifles.
The Shia-dominated police and Iraqi military in the area did not intervene, both residents and Hussein said. Later, militiamen raided the al-Samarraie Sunni mosque in the el-Amel district and killed two guards, police said. Two other Sunni mosques in west Baghdad also were attacked, police said.
Imad al-Din al-Hashemi, a university professor visiting Baghdad, said he was in the Nida Allah mosque when it was attacked during Friday prayers and 14 people were killed. “It was attacked by RPGs and many people were killed and wounded. When the gunmen moved on to attack another mosque we evacuated the wounded,” he said.
He said about 10 people were killed at the nearby Ahbab Mustafa mosque.
Earlier, Sadr warned Iraq’s most prominent Sunni religious leader to tell his followers to stop killing Shias.
Sadr’s warning was directed at Harith al-Dari, the head of Iraq’s influential Muslim Clerics Association, an umbrella group for Sunni religious leaders. Dari, who lives abroad, denies the accusations.
Sadr said Dari must issue fatwas to fellow Sunnis forbidding the killing of Shias or membership of al Qaida.