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Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Norway home of cleric Mullah Krekar attacked

Police officer outside the Oslo flat of Mullah Krekar, 25 January 2010
Gunmen tried to break into the flat in the early hours of Monday

Unidentified gunmen have fired shots at the home of Mullah Krekar, the Kurdish founder of the radical Islamic group, Ansar al-Islam, in Norway.

The cleric was not hurt, but his son-in-law was taken to hospital having been shot in the arm, police said.

Mr Krekar, 53, was in the fourth-floor Oslo flat with four others when the attack happened early on Monday.

Ansar al-Islam, which is based in northern Iraq, is regarded by the UN and US as a terrorist organisation.

Witnesses saw two people fleeing shortly after the shooting, and a car was set alight in a nearby car park, but it was not clear whether these event were linked, police said.

A neighbour said he heard three shots.

"Lots of police arrived quickly and took the entire family away under heavy security," he told the AFP news agency.

Mr Krekar's lawyer, Brynjar Meling, told Norwegian television broadcaster NRK the gunmen had tried to break into the flat before opening fire in what he called "a well-planned and professional attack".

He did not accuse any specific group of being behind the attack, but said that the cleric frequently received death threats.

Mullah Krekar - born Najm Faraj Ahmad - has lived in the suburb of eastern Oslo with his family since 1991 when he was granted refugee status in Norway.

Mullah Krekar
Mullah Krekar was not injured in the attack

From this base he founded Ansar al-Islam, which Washington blames for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. In 2006, the UN added the cleric to a list of people believed to have links with al-Qaeda.

The Kurdish cleric says he stepped down as leader of Ansar al-Islam in 2002 and denies any links with al-Qaeda.

In 2004, Norwegian authorities said there was not enough evidence to charge him with conspiracy in an alleged plot to murder political rivals in Iraq.

He remains in Norway despite a deportation order because of the security situation in Iraq.



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