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Saturday, May 15, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Iraq Notebook
Cleric calls for revenge over shrine


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NAJAF, Iraq — Blaming U.S. forces for gunfire that slightly damaged the Imam Ali mosque, one of Shiite Muslims' holiest shrines, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr last night called for revenge and even suicide attacks.

"We will fight and defend the holy shrines until our last breath," al-Sadr said in an interview broadcast by Al-Arabiya television. "We are not controlling any holy shrine — we are defending these shrines."

The United States says it will fire on Shiite religious structures only if they are housing the enemy. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said al-Sadr's men were probably responsible: "I can just tell you by the looks of where we were firing and where Muqtada's militia was firing, I would put my money that Muqtada caused it."

At least four Iraqis were killed and 26 wounded yesterday in Najaf, according to Haidar Raheem Naama, a hospital official. He said most were civilians. One coalition soldier was wounded, U.S. officials said.

Daily Mirror apologizes over fake photos of abuse

LONDON — The Daily Mirror newspaper apologized yesterday for publishing fake photographs of alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British forces, and the editor resigned.

The move by the newspaper and its owners, Trinity Mirror, came hours after commanders of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment bitterly denounced the pictures and said they had proof the photos — said to be taken in Iraq — had been staged in Britain.

Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan had staunchly defended the photos, which caused an uproar when published on May 1.

Al-Qaida leader states group is helping Iraq insurgents
 
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Al-Qaida's alleged leader in Saudi Arabia said in an Internet statement that the militant network was helping insurgents battling occupation forces in Iraq.

In the statement yesterday on an al-Qaida-linked Web site, Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin said al-Qaida is in close contact with fighters in Iraq.

"By our jihad in the Arab peninsula, we are serving Iraq's cause and helping the mujahedeen (fighters) there, whom we are in close contact with," he said. "There is mutual support between the two of us and we are working on confusing the American enemy."

He did not say if al-Qaida members were in Iraq.

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