Karbala Muslim Cleric Hate
4 killed as cleric's followers battle Iraqi forces in Karbala
By Solomon Moore
Los Angeles Times
Baghdad, Iraq - Armed followers of Shiite Muslim cleric Mahmoud al-Hassani al-Sarkhi opened fire on Iraqi forces with rifles and grenade launchers in Karbala on Tuesday after the army raided his offices.
At least four men were killed during an extended gunfight, and 50 of al-Sarkhi's followers were detained. Iraqi police closed off the city southwest of Baghdad and enforced a three-day curfew.
The fighting came on a day of violent clashes around Iraq.
Al-Sarkhi, who claims to be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, is a controversial figure because of his criticism of other more influential Shiite clergymen such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The clash began after the Iraqi army attempted to seize an empty building next to al-Sarkhi's headquarters, leading to a raid on his office.
"We had fears that we might be targeted through this building," said an al-Sarkhi follower.
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