State of emergency declared in Basra

Iraq's new prime minister has declared a state of emergency for a month in oil-rich Basra which is in the grip of a power struggle between Shia factions.

    Al-Maliki pledged to end infighting among Shia factions

    "We are announcing this broad security mobilisation for the next month and we hope through these negotiations we will gain control of this crisis," Nuri al-Maliki told a press conference during a visit to Basra on Wednesday.

    A government source said security forces will be deployed in the streets of Basra all day and night and they will also conduct search operations.

     

    Al-Maliki had earlier said he would crack down with an "iron fist" on gangs in Basra.

    Action pledged

    In an address to local officials broadcast live on state television on We

    dnesday, al-Maliki also said he would order his security officials to set a plan to restore security in Iraq's second city.

    "We will beat with an iron fist on the heads of gangs who are manipulating security"

    Nuri al-Maliki,
    Iraqi prime minister

    "We will beat with an iron fist on the heads of gangs who are manipulating security," al-Maliki told the gathering.
       
    Al-Maliki, who took office on May 20 at the helm of a coalition of Shia, minority Sunni Arabs and Kurds, travelled to Basra a day after he pledged to end in-fighting among Shia factions threatening oil exports there.

    He held talks with the governor of Basra province and other officials in the city.
           
    Security has deteriorated in Basra over the past year as rival factions from the Shia Muslim majority tussle for a share of the power handed to Shia by the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated administration.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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