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Iraq: Annan condemns killing of Muslim leader

Iraq: Annan condemns 'in strongest possible terms' killing of Muslim leader

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the terrorist attack in Iraq, which killed a leading Islamic leader and many others, and called on all political and religious groups there to refrain from further acts of violence.

"The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that all terrorist acts, whatever their justification, are morally reprehensible and wholly indefensible," Mr. Annan said in a statement issued by his spokesman on the attack in Najaf, in which the spiritual leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), Ayatollah Mohammad Baker Al-Hakim, was killed.

"He is appalled that this incident took place just after Friday prayers in one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites," the statement added. "The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that all terrorist acts, whatever their justification, are morally reprehensible and wholly indefensible.

"In the difficult days ahead, the Secretary-General urges all political and religious groups in Iraq to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from further acts of violence and revenge. The Secretary-General reaffirms his belief that only a credible, inclusive and transparent political process can lead to peace and stability in Iraq," the statement concluded.

Joining the Secretary-General in condemning the violence, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan noted the assassination comes only days after a failed attempt on the life of another leader spiritual leader, Sayed Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, and less than two weeks after the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

Mr. Ramcharan appealed “to all concerned to track down the perpetrators of these criminal acts and bring them to justice, in accordance with international human rights law.”

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