Anger against US as Iraq Shias bury slain MP

Mourners shouted anti-American slogans as gunfire gripped the Baghdad Shia district of Sadr City ahead of the burial on Friday of a member of parliament killed in a roadside bombing.
Residents said firing was heard overnight in Sadr City where Iraqi troops and the US military stepped up security after Thursday’s bombing that killed 41-year-old MP Saleh al-Ogayly.
“Americans get out. Americans get out,” shouted mourners as relatives hugged each other and wept while the wooden coffin of Ogayly was brought out of his home early on Friday draped in the tri-colour Iraqi flag.
The coffin was carried by mourners to the local office of the radical Moqtada al-Sadr.
The coffin was then placed on top of a white sports utility vehicle to be driven to the main Shiite cemetery in the central shrine city of Najaf.
Iraqi security officials said there were no casualties from the overnight gunfire and that the shooting died down as US troops took up positions at the entrance to the impoverished district where two million people live.
“There was shooting at Iraqi forces, but no casualties,” a security official said. “Buildings were hit.”
Residents said they heard US helicopters over the area while American soldiers were seen at the main entrance to the Shia district, site of heavy fighting between US troops and Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia in March and April.
Thursday’s slaying of Ogayly was condemned by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who vowed to capture the assassins and ordered a top-level investigation.
Maliki said he appointed a panel headed by Interior Minister Jawad Bolani to probe the killing of Ogayly, the first Iraqi MP to be killed in 18 months.
“We reaffirm our determination to get at the hotbeds of terrorism and crime, and arrest and prosecute the killers and bring them to justice,” the prime minister said in a statement on Thursday night.
The assassination was also strongly condemned by US ambassador Ryan Crocker and General Raymond Odierno, the commander of US forces in Iraq.
“This heinous crime was not just an attack against Dr. al-Ogayly. It was an attack against Iraq’s democratic institutions,” Crocker and Odierno said in a joint statement.
“We call on all sides to resolve their differences with dialogue and negotiations through national institutions.”

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2008