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Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani: Deadly attacks on protesters not justified

Christian Fernsby |
Iraq's top Shiite cleric today condemned recent deadly attacks on anti government demonstrators and called out state security forces for not doing more to prevent violence in protest squares across the country.

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Eight demonstrators were killed this week in attacks on protest camps by supporters of the populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, including in the shrine city of Najaf home to Iraq's Shiite religious leadership.

In his weekly sermon delivered by a representative, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani condemned the bloodshed as "painful and unfortunate" and said state security forces were "indispensable" to keeping the country from "falling into the abyss of chaos".

"There is no justification for them to stop fulfilling their duties in this regard, or for anyone to stop them from doing so," Mr Al Sistani said.

"They must bear responsibility for maintaining security and stability, protecting peaceful protesters and their gathering places, revealing the identities of aggressors and infiltrators, and protecting the interests of citizens from the attacks of saboteurs."

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