The Iraqi government seized the west Baghdad headquarters of a powerful Sunni Muslim group Wednesday, cordoning off the building and accusing the group of supporting al-Qaida, officials said.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a hardline Sunni clerics group with links to insurgents, has its headquarters in the Um al-Qura mosque in the capital's Sunni-dominated Ghazaliyhah neighborhood.
Iraqi security forces dispatched by the Sunni Endowment, a government agency that cares for Sunni mosques and shrines, surrounded the mosque complex at 9 a.m. Wednesday and demanded that the building be evacuated before noon, the association said in a statement posted on its Web site.
Employees were told to remove all personal belongings and even haul out furniture, that troops said would be destroyed if left behind, it said.
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