Iraqi PM in Basra in bid to end violence
Updated: 2006-05-31 19:33
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki arrived in Basra on Wednesday in a bid
to stem escalating violence in the southern city.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, shown
here in a May 9 file photo, told the BBC in an interview that civilian
deaths in Haditha last November, allegedly caused by U.S. Marines, were
not justified. [AP]
Tensions have been worsening in Shiite-dominated southern Iraq, where Britain
has about 8,000 soldiers and other countries also have troops.
Al-Maliki said earlier this week that his trip was an effort to "heal the
rift and find a solution for what caused the latest events in Basra." He met
with tribal sheiks, city officials, army officers, representatives of the main
political parties and local residents. About 700 people gathered at an
auditorium to hear his address.
In the months after the 2003 invasion, British troops enjoyed relative peace
in southern Iraq compared with the restive Sunni regions further north.
But violence in the region has escalated.
Trouble in the region is due in part to the growing influence of radical
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led two armed uprisings against U.S.-led forces in
2004 and who has been an outspoken critic of the U.S.-led foreign military