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Al-Sadr group threatens to quit
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Friday Nov 24th, 2006 8:04 PM
Faleh Hasan Shanshal, a political aide of Moqtadr al-Sadr, said on Friday: "We have asked al-Maliki to cancel his meeting with Bush as there is no reason to meet the criminal who is behind terrorism in Iraq.
"We will suspend our membership in parliament and the cabinet if he goes ahead."

Nuri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister, is scheduled to meet with George Bush, the US president, in Jordan on November 29.

"This is a sign of an alliance between Saddamists, takfiris (Sunni extremists) and the occupation forces," the statement said.

Pull out threat

Moqtada al-Sadr, the young cleric whose Jaish al-Mahdi (Mahdi Army) militia dominates Sadr City, told chanting supporters in a Friday sermon that the most prominent religious figure from the Sunni group must issue an edict demanding an end to the killing of Shia Muslims.

The group demanded that the government "specify the nature of its relations with the occupation forces", and once again demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of US-led troops from Iraq.

It said the Shia bastion of Sadr City, the impoverished district where many Sadr followers are based, faces deadly insurgent attacks and repeated US raids.

Spate of attacks

A wave of car bombs ripped through Sadr City on Thursday, killing at least 202 people and wounding another 256 in the deadliest attack in Iraq since the war that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Armed men also attacked the city's health ministry on Thursday and fought security guards in a gun battle, trapping 2,000 employees inside.

Officials said the toll could rise since many of the dead had been reduced to scattered body parts and not been fully counted.

After dark, there was sporadic gunfire in several districts.

One of the blasts went off at a market, a regular target for Sunni fighters in the sectarian conflict that has killed thousands of people in Iraq. The neighbourhood is a stronghold of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

After the attacks, al-Maliki warned of "the dark hand of conspiracy that is shedding the blood of the innocent" and urged restraint, saying those responsible would be caught.

Leading Shia, Sunni and Kurdish politicians made a joint appeal for calm on Iraqi television.

Ministry raid

Interior ministry sources said five people were wounded at the health ministry building, about 5km from Sadr City.