Updated at 12:20 a.m. EDT, Apr. 1, 2008
Relative calm has returned to most of Iraq today as Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s truce with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government seems to be holding. New violence left at least 50 Iraqis killed and another 45 wounded. Also, the remains of an American soldier listed as captured since 2004 were located and identified, and an American soldier was killed during an IED attack this afternoon.
The truce between al-Sadr’s militia and the central government appears to be holding. Sporadic attacks tangentially associated with al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army are still taking place, but last week’s violent outburst is over. During weekend talks, the Sadrists gave al-Maliki a face-saving exit from the crackdown he instituted in Basra under the guise of a security operation. Because the operation focused only on neighborhoods already controlled by al-Sadr and ignored other militant groups, the Sadrists, and many analysts, believe that the operation was merely to destroy al-Sadr’s power base before October elections.
The Mahdi Army will continue observing their self-imposed truce only if concessions are met, but there may already be signs that the Maliki government is unwilling to compromise despite their political and military losses. Curfews remain in three al-Sadr strongholds in Baghdad, and Maliki has said that "security operations will continue" in Basra.
Military authorities reported that 210 people were killed, 600 were wounded and 155 more were detained during last week’s operations in Basra. There is no breakdown between Mahdi Army, other groups and military casualties. At the end of the operation, the Mahdi Army was in control of more of Basra than beforehand. In Sadr City, the total number of casualties brought to a pair of hospitals was 109 dead and 634 wounded. Many people were also killed in Baghdad’s other Shi’ite neighborhoods, and throughout the southern provinces, where relative calm has also returned.
In Baghdad, relative calm has returned to Shi’ite neighborhoods and the curfews have mostly been lifted; however, Sadr City remains closed off. Because of the vehicle curfew ambulances were unable to attend to casualites left after a U.S. air strike. Eight people were killed and 15 more were wounded in the attack. U.S. forces killed two suspects and detained five others around the capital. Yesterday, another 16 suspects were killed before the truce went into effect, and 25 were killed in an already reported air strike. One Iraqi soldier was killed and 14 more were wounded during security operations, including one where three suspects were killed. Also, the spokesmen for the Baghdad security plan was released after being held by gunmen since Thursday.
Three dumped bodies were recovered across the capital. The Green Zone was again attacked with mortars, which injured four civilians. In Karrada, mortars injured two people. Two policemen were injured during a roadside bombing in Mansour.
Six dumped bodies were found in Latifiya. They were handcuffed, blindfolded and shot.
Four Awakening Council (Sahwa) members were killed during clashes with al-Qaeda suspects near Buhriz.
One civilian was killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb blasted their truck in Balad Ruz.
Six suspects were captured in Karbala.
A curfew was partially lifted in Nasariya.
A body belonging to a security volunteer was found in Mahaweel.
A journalist was arrested in Mahmuhdiya.
In Muqdadiyah, two bodyguards belonging to a vice governor were killed.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis
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