01/14/2005, 00.00
IRAQ
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Shiites targeted to foil elections

According Bishop Warduni the country is going through a long and dark tunnel whilst some Iraqis are doing everything they can to stop the elections. He expresses solidarity with the Shiite community which was attacked once again.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – "The situation is not good and no one can be optimistic about the future," said Shlemon Warduni, Auxiliary Bishop for the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad. "The country is not secure and the climate of violence is getting worse by the day."

Bishop Warduni is truly worried about this escalation and is deeply sorry for the suffering of the Shiite community which was attacked by terrorists once again .

Three weeks before the elections, fears that the country might plunge in a civil war are growing, this after the murder of two aides to grand ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Insurgents yesterday killed Halim al Mohaqeq, a cleric working in the ayatollah's office in Najaf.

Wednesday Sheik Mahmoud Finjan, ayatollah al-Sistani's representative in the town of Salman Pak, his son and four bodyguards were also fatally shot.

These murders are the latest in a long series of attacks against leaders of Iraq's majority Shiite community.

On December 27 a carbomb killed 13 people near the offices of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI) in Baghdad.

Shiites constitute 60 per cent of Iraq's population and were under Saddam Hussein's oppressive thumb for decades.

For Bishop Warduni, "most terrorists come from abroad but they have found help among some segments of the local population".

Bishop Warduni is convinced that "part of the country does not want the elections and is trying everything they can to stop them".  The future does not look very bright and Iraq "is going through a long and dark tunnel". 

Shiites want the elections but face Sunni opposition. And a spokesman for al-Sistani said that "Shiites' strength is greater" than that of other groups and could easily win any confrontation with the Sunnis, but "it is not our intention to plunge Iraq into a civil war".

The international community has moved to guarantee the country's security and a normal election process, but for the Bishop Warduni, it "is not doing everything possible to help Iraq." The Bishop goes further and denounces the "hostile attitude of some nations that want to destroy, not build". (DS)

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