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Key Sunni Leader Dies in Anbar Bombing

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

U: Success is possible; look at Anbar Province. Sunni tribal leaders there have joined the U.S. in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Well, today, a man at the forefront of that effort Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed in a bomb blast along with his bodyguards and his driver. He was leaving his home in the provincial capital Ramadi.

NPR's Jamie Tarabay reports.

JAMIE TARABAY: Sheikh Sattar was the face of the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq when he met President Bush earlier this month at a U.S. base in Anbar. The president praised Sattar and the U.S. military for restoring calm to the region, once the deadliest for U.S. troops.

Sattar and others joined together late last year, declaring a truce and an alliance between local Sunnis and the U.S. military and vowed to crush al-Qaida in Iraq.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility for Sattar's killing. But local tribal leaders were quick to blame al-Qaida. Anbar Sheikh Ayzan Sadun(ph) said al-Qaida in Iraq had warned it would escalate attacks in Anbar during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Today was the first day of fasting for the world's Sunni Muslims.

It's not the first time Sattar and other tribal leaders are being targeted. Sattar had already survived two assassination attempts. In June, a bombing at a Baghdad hotel killed another tribal leader and at least 11 others. Al-Qaida in Iraq said it was behind that blast.

Anbar's tribal leaders convened an emergency meeting following today's killing. A spokesman for the U.S. military command in the western province says that while Sattar's death was a tragic loss, what the sheikh had started will not be stopped.

Jamie Tarabay, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Jamie Tarabay
After reporting from Iraq for two years as NPR's Baghdad Bureau Chief, Jamie Tarabay is now embarking on a two year project reporting on America's Muslims. The coverage will take in the country's approx 6 million Muslims, of different ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and the issues facing their daily lives as Americans.