A curfew was imposed in the city of Najaf, south of Baghdad on Friday after the assassination of a key aide of radical Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr.
Riyad al-Nuri, the director of the cleric’s office in Najaf, was killed by unidentified gunmen near his home as he returned from Friday prayers.
According to Ahmad Dabil, a government spokesman quoted by Voices of Iraq, an indefinite curfew was imposed immediately after the shooting.
Al-Sadr’s militias have been involved in violent clashes with government forces since prime minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on militias last month.
According to Hayder al-Jibari, from the Sadr local office, security forces opened fire on the al-Sadr aide as he returned home and fled in an unmarked vehicle.
Earlier in Karbala on Friday, according to Voices of Iraq, a Sadrist official said the movement was seeking appeasement and rational discourse after the Iraqi government stopped provoking unrest.
“The Sadrist bloc is calling for solving problems peacefully. Any problem, internal, regional or international, can never be solved except through dialogue and peaceful means,” Sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Muhammadawi, the head of Sadr’s office in Karbala, told VOI.
Hundreds have died in bloody clashes, mainly in the capital Baghdad and in the southern city of Basra in recent weeks as US and Iraqi forces targetted al-Sadr’s militias, known as the Mahdi Army.
Meanwhile in an interview broadcast on Arab television network, al-Arabiya, Iraq’s adviser on national security, Muafiq al-Rubei, said sectarian violence was still a real threat for the future of the country.