Al-Sadr preaches restraint

Muqtada al-Sadr has said he will not order his militia to strike al-Qaida fighters after Sunday's bombing of his stronghold in Baghdad because that would mean civil war.

    Al-Sadr held US forces responsible for the bombings

    "I could order the Mahdi Army to root out the terrorists and fundamentalists but this would lead us into civil war and we don't want that," the Shia cleric told a news conference in the city of Najaf on Monday.

    Returning to a theme that has previously been common ground with Sunni fighters and appeared to give his followers some protection from them, al-Sadr renewed his criticism of the US forces, against which al-Mahdi Army rose up twice in 2004.
       
    "I hold the occupiers responsible for this tragedy," al-Sadr said. "I consider them the ones who ordered it."

    At least 46 people were killed and 204 were wounded in a crowded Sadr City neighbourhood east of Baghdad on Sunday, when up to six car bombs exploded in quick succession.
       
    The attack raised new fears of Shia reprisals and all-out sectarian warfare, two-and-a-half weeks after the bombing of an important Shia shrine prompted days of violence, including assaults on Sunni mosques and homes that killed hundreds.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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