Saturday's Middle East newspapers are unanimous in condemning the killing of Iraqi Shia leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim in Najaf on Friday.
Many believe that his death will lead to a new cycle of violence, plunging Iraq into chaos and bloody sectarian conflict.
Some blame the US-led occupation of Iraq for opening the doors to terrorism.
And one Iranian paper suggests that an Iranian opposition group could have had a hand in the attack.
This hideous crime goes beyond the killing of one man. This crime has killed the whole of Iraq... The way this abominable crime was perpetrated is no different - in its aims and means - from the Jordanian embassy and UN HQ bombings in Baghdad. This is nothing but organised terrorism and those who are behind it should not be allowed to escape unpunished.
The news came as a nightmare. Anything was to be expected in occupied Iraq in the light of events that one witnesses daily. Yet, when we heard about the killing of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, we can only regard this as an abominable crime perpetrated by evil groups which has deeply shaken human hearts.
Yesterday, it was Sergio Vieira de Mello's blood; today, it is Mohammed Baqr's blood. What about tomorrow?... Blood, blood and more blood. This is what Iraq has become.
The evil act perpetrated against Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim and many other victims is a crime against humanity and a political tragedy... It points to a future of internal conflict in Iraq, which will hinder its return to peace and stability.
Jordan's Al-Arab al-Yawm
With the killing of the leader of the Islamic revolution, Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, Iraq has entered a new cycle of massacres which is going to lead the country into darkness.
The repugnant crime which caused the death of al-Hakim can be explained only as an action of an individual who wants Iraq to stay as it is, in chaos and bloodshed... Shia unity was the starting and end point of national unity... Iraq will become the battle ground in a sectarian war.
The crime perpetrated yesterday in Najaf, which caused the death of Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, has a clear message: this is nothing but an attempt to kindle sectarian chaos in Iraq and lead the country into a vicious circle of bloodshed and internal feuds.
This is the American occupation... It was natural that all immunities would collapse, including the immunity of the UN HQ in Baghdad, the diplomatic immunity of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the immunity of the Jordanian embassy, as well as that of the holy threshold... Iraq's arena is open to terrorism.
This is a war between the US administration and terrorism and the ones who are paying the price are Iraqi citizens who know too well that it is occupation which in itself has opened the doors to terror.
The US is directly responsible for the events that have transpired in Iraq and it should not inflict even the slightest harm on the people of that land in order to establish law and order in that country.
The plot to assassinate Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim... was undoubtedly planned by the US and implemented by local mercenaries under US control. As far as local US mercenaries are concerned, one should not forget the role of the Monafeqin [hypocrites, pejorative reference to the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation]... As they are Shia Iranians, the Monafeqin can easily infiltrate Iraqi Shia circles.
Iran's Jomhuri-ye Eslami
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