Four Shiite leaders held in Iraq: Sadr's office

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Date: 21 Sept 2006


NAJAF, Iraq, Sept 21, 2006 (AFP) - Four leaders of the group of radical
Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were arrested overnight in Baghdad and the
holy city of Najaf, Sadr's office here announced early Thursday.

A total of 12 officials were held in the swoop, spokesmen in this city 160
kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad said.

Among the leaders seized was Salah al-Obeidi, a close colleague of the
Muslim cleric. He was picked up at his home in Najaf while the group's
spokesman, Hazem al-Aaraji, was held in Kazimiyah north of Baghdad.

Sadr's office accused the US forces of "carrying out arrests and seeking to
destabilize regions where security prevails."

A top US military official said Wednesday a number of militiamen linked to
Sadr had been captured over the last month for their alleged involvement in
the sectarian killings of Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

"The coalition has made efforts to capture anyone that is involved" in
sectarian killings, said Major General Joseph Peterson, the head of the
Iraqi Police training program.

Peterson said coalition troops have focused their efforts on stopping
sectarian killings in Iraq and especially in Baghdad, the epicentre of such
brutal tit-for-tat bloodshed.

Coalition spokesman Major General William Caldwell said "this past week
there was a spike in execution type murders in Baghdad."

"Many bodies found have clear signs of being bound, tortured and executed.
We believe death squads and other illegal armed groups are responsible for
these actions."

Dozens of bodies of men shot to death execution-style with bullets to their
heads are found daily in Baghdad.

Iraq is engulfed in a brutal Shiite-Sunni conflict that has left thousands
dead since February.

On Wednesday a UN human rights report said that at least 6,599 civilians
were killed across Iraq in the months of July and August.

In July at least 3,590 people were killed and in August 3,009 died in
attacks on civilians.