Iraq: Sadr urged not to extend cease-fire

Published January 28th, 2008 - 01:24 GMT

Influential members of Muqtada al-Sadr's movement have urged the anti-U.S. Shiite cleric not to extend a cease-fire when it expires next month, officials said Monday. 
Al-Sadr's August order for his Mahdi Army militia to freeze activities for six months was seen by American commanders as a major factor in a nationwide reduction of violence. The political commission of al-Sadr's movement and some lawmakers and senior officials said they were urging him to follow through with his threat, pointing to recent raids against the movement in the southern Shiite cities of Diwaniyah, Basra and Karbala. "We presented a historic opportunity when we froze the (Mahdi) army," Nasser al-Rubaie, leader of the Sadrists in parliament, told reporters Monday. "But the step was negatively capitalized on."


The group planned to send the message to al-Sadr's main office in the holy city of Najaf, two Sadrist legislators and a member of the political commission told The Associated Press. "We have demanded that the government purge these security organs and release our detainees," one official said. "We have not found any positive response so far from the government, so why then should we continue freezing the (Mahdi Army)?"


Meanwhile, the Iraqi Red Crescent organization gave a higher death toll than Iraqi officials from last week's devastating house blast in the northern city of Mosul.The organization said more than 60 people died and 280 were injured based on estimates from relatives who buried victims without officially registering them. Iraqi officials in Mosul maintain that nearly 40 were killed and more than 200 wounded.


On Tuesday, a roadside bomb struck a minibus carrying a coffin and mourners to a funeral in the predominantly Shiite southeastern neighborhood of New Baghdad, killing three passengers, a police officer said. The bomb apparently was meant for a police patrol but missed its target and blew up near the bus instead, a police officer said.

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