Thursday, August 30, 2007
(KUNA) -- Angered by Tuesday's clashes between policemen of Karbala City and the Shiite militia of Al-Mahdi's Army, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki decided Wednesday to sack commander of police operations' center Major General Saleh Khazal Al-Maliki and run the center by himself. He also fired 1,500 other police officers. Al-Maliki's decree sacking the police chief and other police officers was meant to blame them of professional incompetence, Spokesman of Iraqi Ministry of Defense Staff Major General Mohammad Al-Askari told KUNA here.
The Prime Minister visited the embattled city earlier in the day to defuse the two-day riots and chaos among Iraqis during religious Shiite rites. Soon after his arrival in Karbala, Al-Maliki convened with Minister of Defense Mohammad Abdul-Qader Al-Ubaidi and National Security Advisor Mowaffaq Al-Rubaiei as well as local military and civilian leaders. He imposed a curfew as of Wednesday morning pending further notice and ordered the arrest of anyone who breaks his instructions. Al-Maliki held "criminal gangs" and "remnants of Al-Baath Party" responsible for the riots and attacks against visitors of the holy city. He vowed to track down the perpetrators and culprits of the riots that left 55 dead and some 300 others injured.
The malicious design targeting the stability in the holy city and the safety of its citizens was aborted, the prime minister asserted, adding that the situation was brought under full control of the security forces after the arrival of military backup. The militants targeted to occupy the two holy shrines and topple Al-Maliki's government, Al-Rubaiei said. Commandoes took part in normalizing the situation in the southern Iraqi city, he added.
However, local sources told KUNA two secretaries of the Shiite cleric Al-Sistani; Sheikh Abdul-Mahdi Al-Karbalaei and Ahmad Al-Safi were still seized in areas adjacent to the two holy shrines of the city which are under full control of Al-Mahdi Army.