He said the move was aimed at stopping the flow of arms to the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, a stronghold of armed Shia insurgents fighting US-sponsored rule.
 
"Next week, we will announce a nationwide arms collection drive," Daud said, adding a deadline for the current arms amnesty in Sadr City would be extended to Thursday.

"There are many people with weapons who want to hand them over in Sadr City so we decided to extend the deadline until Thursday. It would not be fair to search houses now when these people have not had enough time to turn over their weapons."
 
Fighters loyal to Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr had been fighting US troops in Sadr City before an arms buy-back deal was reached.

Falluja offensive

Falluja residents say there is no
evidence al-Zarqawi is in the city

Iraq's interim government is also trying to pacify the besieged western city of Falluja before elections scheduled for January.

The government has threatened to launch a military offensive in Falluja if the town fails to hand over al-Qaida-linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his followers.
 
Falluja residents say they have seen no evidence that al-Zarqawi has a network in the city and US air strikes have enraged the population.

Asked what proof the government has that al-Zarqawi has followers and bases in Falluja, Daud said: "There are many of his followers, jihadists. The proof is there."

He would not be drawn on when an offensive would be launched if al-Zarqawi was not handed over.

"We have a timetable and we will stick to it," he said, without elaborating.