Updated at 8:49 p.m. EDT, April 4, 2008
Although Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki stopped
threatening more crackdowns, he continues his attempt to reassert his power against
Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. Meanwhile, at least 51 Iraqis
were killed and another 37 were wounded in the latest violence. No Coalition
deaths were reported.
Yesterday, Prime Minister al-Maliki said he would
order more crackdowns against Mahdi Army strongholds; however, today he ordered
a "freeze" on raids targeting al-Sadr followers and has offered
Mahdi Army members "amnesty" if they give up their weapons. The freeze was an
original condition of the truce, but security forces have continued their raids
anyway, perhaps because al-Maliki has not
backed away from saying that operations in Basra will continue.
the beginning, the Mahdi Army said they would not relinquish their weaponry, and
al-Sadr has told his followers
not to hand them over. Instead, they staged
peaceful protests today after prayers. Also, al-Sadr has moved
next week's million-strong march from Najaf to Baghdad.
Last week, al-Maliki
sent Iraqi forces into Basra under the guise of a "security crackdown" that many
analysts believe was actually an attempt to diminish al-Sadr's power base ahead
of elections. Instead of clearing Basra of criminals that have taken over the
city, Iraqi troops directly targeted al-Sadr's followers.
The Mahdi Army
briefly ended a seven-month-long, unilateral cease-fire to fight back, dealing
al-Maliki a bloody political nose. The government admits
to a thousand Iraqi security personnel deserting their posts to either join the
militia or just refusing to fight them. Still, hundreds were killed in several
cities, including Baghdad, and al-Maliki was forced to accept a truce when it
became obvious that the Iraqi Army would not be able to defeat al-Sadr's militia.
bomber killed 20 people and at least wounded 30 at a funeral in Hamrin.
The funeral was for a Sunni policeman
who had been shot last night.
Coalition forces attacked Madhi Army
members west of Basra and ordered an air strike during the ensuing clashes.
children were killed along with another person. The number of wounded was
not reported. Not only did th British military did not deny that Coalition troops
were in the area, they have officially
begun security operations again, after having withdrawn to the Basra airport
late last year.
In Baghdad, mortar fells on the Green Zone, but
no casualties were
reported yet. Two dumped
bodies were found.
In Hilla, a roadside bomb killed
four policemen and injured one other.
A roadside bomb in Mussayab
killed three policemen and wounded
In Mosul, a roadside bomb killed
one policeman and injured a second. Police killed
an IED emplanter.
A bomb killed
a man in Jurf al-Sakhar.
An Awakening Council (Sahwa) member
was killed during a drive-by shooting near Samarra.
killed seven suspects and
detained 16 more in Basra.
suspects were killed and 20 were detained by U.S. forces in northern Iraq.
al-Qaeda suspects were captured
policemen were injured by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk.
by Margaret Griffis