2 Members of Influential Sunni Cleric Organization Slain

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From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Gunmen killed a member of a prominent hard-line Sunni Muslim clerics’ group today, the second such killing in Iraq in as many days, witnesses and hospital officials said.

Sheik Ghaleb Zuheir was shot to death in Miqdadiya, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. His killing followed Monday’s slaying of Sheik Faidi Faidi, another member of the Muslim Scholars Assn., in the northern city of Mosul.

The powerful body of Sunni clerics has been a rallying point for opposition to the U.S. military presence in Iraq and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s government. The group has announced its intention to boycott parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 30.


It was unknown whether the two were slain because of their membership in the clerics’ organization.

On Monday, Allawi made an appeal for national unity.

“Everyone -- Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish and Christian -- must feel that they are Iraqi,” he said in a meeting with tribal leaders from Baqubah and Kirkuk. “We need there to be no discrimination between anybody. I believe in this personally, and the Iraqi government believes this.”