BAGHDAD, Aug 19: A prominent Iraqi cleric who urged Islamist armed groups to end their insurgency was critically wounded, and four of his bodyguards killed, when a car bomb hit his convoy in Baghdad on Sunday.

Mehdi al-Sumaidai, who once fought US troops in Iraq and was part of a Sunni body issuing religious edicts, had been negotiating with insurgent groups who vowed to fight on after the withdrawal of American troops in December.

The attack came as Al Qaeda's local wing, Islamic State of Iraq, has warned of a new campaign and security analysts say fighters in Iraq are benefiting from funds and morale from Islamists slipping into Syria to join the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad next door.Police said a parked car bomb blew up when Sumaidai's convoy arrived near his residence in Yarmouk District, central western Baghdad, after he finished Eidul Fitr prayers. “Sumaidai was brought to us with four other people, all of them seriously injured. Sumaidai was wounded in many parts of his body,” said a policeman at the Baghdad hospital where the cleric was taken after the blast.

Sumaidai was previously a jihadist who led a militant group that fought American troops in western Baghdad after the 2003 invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.—Reuters

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