Thousands Of Iraqis Mourn Slain Shiite Leader

"We are all with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq," one grieving supporter, who declined to give his name, said.

"We condemn this horrible crime that has been committed by the Baathists, we want to tell America and Saddam and all the criminals we will keep walking in the path of the martyr."

Hakim’s remains were being transported to the Shiite holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, for a similar procession, before they are returned to Najaf for burial Tuesday, September 2,

The cleric died in Najaf, 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of the capital, when two cars exploded outside the Mausoleum of Imam Ali, in an attack that left at least 82 others dead and 125 wounded.

During the Baghdad procession the mourners beat their chests and thrust their hands in the air in the traditional gesture of mourning as they filed through the winding streets of Kadhimiyah, a middle-class Shiite area on the banks of the river Tigris.

"Allah Akbar," or God is greatest, some shouted, while others cried: "Hakim has made America tremble with fear."

Sunday’s procession began at about 7:00 am (0300 GMT) on a huge plaza in front of Kadhimiyah mosque, a yellow brick building topped by a turquoise dome.

The mourners, many weeping, held aloft the green flag of Islam, the red flag for martyrs and the black flag for mourning.

They listened to sermons by several imams read out over loudspeakers.

"Hakim was for all Iraqis – Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Turkmen. His death is a loss for us all," said one speaker.

"The occupation forces who have seized this country by force are responsible for security and for all the holy blood that has been shed in Najaf, Baghdad, Mosul and all the Iraqi provinces," he added.

After the sermon, the procession moved off to later pass by the Buratha mosque in Autaifia district, several kilometers (miles) away.

It passed under a large banner straddling the street that read: "We will not have peace till we get revenge for the martyrs."

A pick-up truck with four armed men drove alongside some 50 veiled women mourners. The men said they were protecting the women.

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of several Iraqi towns Saturday protesting the assassination of al-Hakim.

Heaping blame on Baathists and the U.S.-led occupation authority, they chanted: "No, no to America, death for America. Death for Baathis."

While the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime were "high on the list" of suspects in the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, Iraqi police announced Saturday that four men, two Iraqis and two Saudis, have confessed to the crime.

Hakim’s party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), sits on a U.S.-appointed interim Governing Council alongside the KDP and PUK.

This comes as Iraqi police said that authorities are searching for three cars laden with explosives believed to have entered Najaf.

"We received information that three car bombs had entered Najaf and we are searching them," Major Tariq Jamel told AFP.