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Last Updated: Monday, 20 August 2007, 19:37 GMT 20:37 UK
Roadside bomb kills Iraq governor
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The Shia governor of Iraq's southern Muthana province has been killed by a roadside bomb, officials have said.

The governor, Mohammed Ali al-Hasani, was killed when the bomb exploded next to his convoy as it drove through the provincial capital, Samawa, police say.

Several bodyguards were also injured in the explosion, which happened at 0800 local time (0400 GMT).

Mr Hasani belonged to the largest Shia party in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SiiC).

He is the second Shia governor killed this month.

On 11 August the governor of Diwaniya, Khalil Jalil Hamza, was killed by a roadside bomb along with police chief Maj-Gen Khaled Hassan.

Those behind this horrible crime want to flood the province with chaos... we call on our people in the Muthana province to exercise self-restraint and avoid the trap set by this act
Nouri Maliki
Iraqi prime minister

The governor was a key figure in the Badr Organisation, the military wing of SiiC.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who is on an official visit to Syria, called Monday's attack on Muthana's governor an ugly crime.

"Those behind this horrible crime want to flood the province with chaos and insecurity, thus implementing an agenda of hatred that does not want any good for our people," he said.

"Therefore, we call on our people in the Muthana province to exercise self-restraint and avoid the trap set by this act."

'Shia rivalry'

The Badr Organisation has clashed frequently with the Mehdi Army militia loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr for control of areas in the south of Iraq.

Officials are suggesting the latest killing could be the result of rivalry between Shia factions, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Baghdad.

But Mr Sadr's office condemned the killings of both governors, describing them as "a secret plan by the occupiers to create the environment to stay in Iraq".

Iraq's interior ministry has sent a team to Muthana province to investigate.

The attack comes as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visits Baghdad to meet Iraqi leaders.

The trip marks the first time a French minister has been to Iraq since France opposed the US-led invasion in 2003.

Franco-US relations have improved since Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president in May.

Mr Kouchner held talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and was due to meet the leaders of several of the main political factions.

Before the talks, Mr Kouchner said France was ready to offer its support to end sectarian violence, but that the solution lay in Iraqi hands.

He also said there was no military solution to Iraq's problems.




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Archive footage of Mohammed Ali al-Hasani





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