Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 21:41 UK

Thousands mourn Iraqi Shia leader

Thousands of Iraqi Shias mourned Abdul Aziz al-Hakim

Thousands of Iraqi Shias turned out to mourn the powerful Shia Muslim leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim on the second day of funeral proceedings.

Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, died in Tehran on Wednesday of lung cancer, and his body was flown back to Iraq on Friday.

Hakim, an important power-broker, was buried in the city of Najaf, amid a tight security operation.

Separately, at least 15 people died in two bomb attacks north of Baghdad.

Tight security

As Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's funeral procession passed through the mainly Shia areas south of Baghdad, the route was lined with thousands of mourners, many wearing black.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim in January 2009
Hakim was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and had chemotherapy

His coffin was taken to the important Shia shrines in Karbala and then moved to the holy city of Najaf.

He was buried there next to his brother, Muhammad Baqr, who was killed six years ago to the day in a suicide car bombing in the city.

Iraqi security forces mounted a huge security operation in Najaf, with their performance under scrutiny after their failure to prevent a series of recent large-scale attacks.

North of Baghdad, there were two separate bomb attacks on Saturday, one targeting a police station. At least 15 people were killed.

 al-Hakim carried through Tehran street
Born circa 1950, died 26 August 2009
Leader of Islamist Shia party Sciri, later SIIC, since 2003
Backed by Tehran, but maintaining close ties to its arch-rival Washington
Lost six of his seven brothers and 50 extended family members in resistance to Saddam Hussein

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was an important power-broker, with strong ties to the US and Iran.

He opposed Saddam Hussein from exile in Iran for more than two decades, before returning to Iraq in 2003 after the US-led invasion.

He took control of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri - which later became SIIC) after Muhammad Baqr was assassinated.

As heir to the leadership of one of the main anti-Saddam Hussein factions in Iraq, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim managed to keep good ties with both the American authorities and Iran, which strongly backed his group.

The family is revered among Iraq's largest religious community, the Shia, for its tradition of scholarship and its bouts of resistance against Saddam Hussein in its southern Iraqi stronghold.

However, the quietly-spoken Hakim was distrusted by many Sunnis who saw him as too Iranian-orientated and sectarian in his political philosophy.

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