Iraqi prime minister launches security plan for Basra

March 25th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, March 25 (DPA) Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched Tuesday a security plan in the southern city of Basra to maintain security and fight militias and gangs in the city, which has been witnessing heavy fighting between Iraqi forces and militia. Intense fighting was reported in Basra, as the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, attacked a number of security checkpoints, security sources in the Shia-dominated city said.

Some 50,000 Iraqi troop and police reinforcements are in Basra, supervised by al-Maliki, who is also the general commander of the army, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesman of the Iraqi interior ministry, told reporters.

Security forces imposed a blanket curfew in the city from the early hours of Monday, while schools and universities did not open Tuesday and would stay closed for a further three days.

The city’s borders were also closed for the coming three days and citizens ordered to hand all weapons to security forces.

Al-Maliki arrived in Basra Monday to inspect the security situation in Iraq’s second largest city where Shia parties and their militias, and criminal gangs are all locked in a struggle for power.

Several US military aircraft have landed at Basra airport, witnesses said Tuesday.

Meanwhile the US military reported that five extremists were killed overnight by coalition troops near Basra as they prepared a bomb.

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