Updated at 8:37 p.m. EDT, Apr. 8, 2008
As U.S. officials briefed Congress on Iraq withdrawal plans, Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned that his Mahdi army will end their unilaterally imposed ceasefire and called off a peaceful demonstration scheduled for tomorrow, citing fears of more attacks. Meanwhile, General Petreus has advised postponing the U.S. drawdown in troops. At least 52 Iraqis were also killed, and another 190 Iraqis were wounded in the latest violence. Two American soldiers were also killed.
Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to end a seven-month-long ceasefire if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does not stop targeting his followers. Recently, the al-Maliki government, under the guise of a security crackdown, failed to drive the Mahdi army out of Basra. Instead, violence erupted throughout southern Iraq and in Baghdad because al-Sadr’s followers believed they were being unfairly targeted due to upcoming elections.
Although the Mahdi army was under a unilaterally imposed ceasefire at the time, al-Sadr has allowed his followers to defend themselves against attacks. This ceasefire has dramatically reduced the amount of violence, but if it ends, the results could be catastrophic as violence returns to levels unseen since last summer.
Al-Sadr may be justified in calling off his million-strong march due to security concerns. Iraqi forces are reportedly preventing followers from entering Baghdad. The cleric believes they may be further targeted for violence by Iraqi troops during the peaceful demonstration.
In Baghdad, about 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops are besieging the poverty stricken suburb of Sadr City, which is a Mahdi army stronghold. According to the latest reports, at least 13 people were killed and 140 more were wounded during today’s clashes and about another 12 were killed in a Hellfire missile attack. Fifteen civilians were wounded there and in other neighborhoods, and many have fled the area. A mortar attack in Sadr City left two dead and five wounded. In Zayouna, nine people were wounded during a roadside bombing. A bomb in Adhamiya wounded two people. Seven more were wounded in random clashes. Three dumped bodies were found. Also, the Green Zone suffered more rocket and mortar attacks.
Seven people were killed and 10 others were wounded near Balad Ruz, when a roadside bomb blasted their minibus.
In Tuz Khormato, 16 people were wounded during a roadside bombing.
An Awakening Council (Sahwa) member and his three sons were gunned down in Baquba.
An IED in al-Rubaiaa killed one person and wounded two others.
Clashes broke out in al-Hadar. The mayor’s wife was killed.
In Mosul, an explosion left one woman injured.
Ten suspects were killed last week in Basra.
Iraqi security arrested 70 suspects across Iraq.
An Islamic State In Iraq leader was detained.
Iraqi forces clashed with smugglers in Ras al-Bisha. Two Arab nationals were arrested.
In Tikrit, a mortar fell on a home, killing a woman and injuring three family members.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis
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