- - Sunday, August 19, 2012

BAGHDAD — A bomb struck the convoy of a senior Sunni cleric in western Baghdad on Sunday morning, killing four and critically wounding the anti-extremist Muslim leader, police said.

The attack highlights the threats faced by relatively moderate Sunni clerics whom the Shiite-led government needs to rebuild the country and establish security, and follows a series of assaults in what is becoming an increasingly bloody month.

The blast in the capital’s Yarmouk neighborhood left Sheik Mahdi al-Sumaidaie badly hurt, a Sunni religious official said. The cleric had just finished leading prayers at a nearby mosque to mark the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which follows the holy month of Ramadan.

Sheik al-Sumaidaie has sided with the government against Sunni extremists. Earlier this year, he called for a unified religious authority to bridge the gap between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites.

Insurgents often target Sunni clerics seen as working closely with the Shiite-led government.

CHINA

Politician’s wife in murder case gets suspended death sentence

HEFEI — The wife of a fallen Chinese politician has been given a suspended death sentence after confessing to killing a British businessman in a case that has rocked the country’s political leadership.

A suspended sentence is usually commuted to life in prison after several years.

He Zhengsheng, a lawyer for the victim Neil Heywood, said Monday that Gu Kailai was given the suspended death sentence and a family aide was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for killing the former Bo family associate.

But even with the verdict, questions remain over the fate of Mrs. Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai, who was dismissed in March as party secretary of Chongqing.

SOUTH AFRICA

Mine company to strikers: 
Work Monday or be fired

MARIKANA — Miners must return to work Monday or face being fired from the platinum mine where rivalry between unions exploded into violence that led to the deaths of 44 people in a week, Lonmin PLC said Sunday. Thirty-four were gunned down by police last week in one of the worst displays of state violence since apartheid ended in 1994.

President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning starting Monday to commemorate the lives of all South Africans who have died violently, especially the 44 at Marikana mine.

“The nation is in shock and pain,” Mr. Zuma said. “We must this week reflect on the sanctity of human life. … We must unite against violence from whatever quarter.”

Hundreds of rock-drill operators have been leading an illegal strike among the mine’s 28,000-strong labor force.

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