Iraq government to enforce ban on weapons

April 9th, 2008 - 12:52 am ICT by admin  

Baghdad, April 8 (DPA) Iraq’s security forces were ordered Tuesday to collect arms from ordinary people and political parties in Baghdad, while Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr postponed a planned protest against US presence in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered security forces to enforce the ban on gun ownership in the next days, General Qasim Atta, the spokesman for the Baghdad operations, told reporters.

Medium and heavy guns, explosives and all kinds of rockets will be collected to remove all military appearances in the capital, Atta said.

Baghdad’s Shia-dominated Kazimiyah district was declared a weapons-free area in accordance with a government order to demilitarise Iraq’s holy cities, according to Atta.

Kazimiyah, which houses a shrine of Shia Imam Mussa al-Kazim, is one of the strongholds of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

People in the district have been urged to hand in light, medium and heavy weapons as well as explosives and any other weapons within three days from April 9.

Those surrendering their weapons would be given money rewards while those who refused would be held accountable, the general said.

In the southern city of Basra, security forces were ordered to target from Wednesday armed people and groups who had not handed in their weapons by Tuesday, a senior official from Iraqi interior ministry, General Abdel-Karim Khalaf, told the media.

The Iraqi government gave a 10-day deadline for militias and people in Basra to hand in their arms.

Basra has been the scene of fighting between Iraqi troops and Shia militias, mainly Mahdi Army, since the government launched a crackdown on March 25.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting erupted Tuesday in a Shia district in eastern Baghdad between Mahdi Army militiamen and Iraqi and US troops, witnesses said.

At least seven people were reported killed in the fighting.

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