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Shiite politician is slain in Baghdad

BAGHDAD — A roadside bomb killed a prominent member of Muqtada al-Sadr's political movement Thursday, raising fears of new internal Shiite bloodshed ahead of regional elections expected in January.

The victim's allies blamed U.S. and Iraqi forces for the blast. Suspicion also fell on Shiite splinter groups, some with suspected links to Iran, which has sheltered al-Sadr for nearly 18 months.

Saleh al-Auqaeili, considered a moderate within al-Sadr's movement, was traveling in a convoy with other Shiite lawmakers when the bombing occurred about 200 yards from an Iraqi army checkpoint in mostly Shiite eastern Baghdad, a colleague said.

Al-Auqaeili died at a hospital, Sadrist spokesman Ahmed al-Massoudi said. One commuter on a motorcycle was also killed in the blast, police said.

Al-Sadr's followers have long opposed the U.S. military presence in Iraq, and some of them were quick to blame the Americans and their Iraqi allies, citing the movement's opposition to a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement that has been under negotiation for months.

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