BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Shiite prime minister promised Sunday to reshuffle his
Cabinet after calling lawmakers disloyal and blaming Sunni Muslims for raging
sectarian violence that claimed at least 159 more lives, including 35 men blown
apart while waiting to join Iraq's police force.
Among the unusually high number of dead
were 50 bodies found behind a regional electrical company in Baqouba, 35 miles
northeast of Baghdad, and 25 others found scattered throughout the capital.
Three US troops were reported killed, as were four British service members.
Salim Abdul Nabi lies on the ground grieving over death of
son Ali, age 7, killed in an explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 12,
2006. A pair of roadside bombings targeting police patrols in Baghdad
killed at least six passers-by and wounded six others, said police.
Also Sunday, the country's Sunni defense minister challenged Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki's contention that the US military should quickly pull back into
bases and let the Iraqi army take control of security countrywide.
Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi rejected calls by al-Maliki for the US
military to speed transfer of security operations throughout the country to the
Iraqi army, saying his men still were too poorly equipped and trained to do the
"We are working hard to create a real army and we ask our government not to
try to move too quickly because of the political pressure it feels. Our
technical needs are real and that is very important, if we are to be a real
force against insecurity," al-Obaidi said.
Al-Maliki wants the Americans confined to bases for him to call on in
emergencies, but he boldly predicted his army could crush violence within six
months if left alone to do the work.
The top US commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey last month said it would take
12 to 18 months before Iraq's army was ready to take control of the country with
some US backup.
Key lawmakers from al-Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party said that in the coming
Cabinet shake up, which the prime minister promised during a closed-door
parliament session Sunday, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani was at the top of
the list to lose his post because police and security forces were failing to
quell the unbridled sectarian killing that has reached civil war proportions in
Baghdad and the center of the country.
Al-Bolani, a Shiite who was chosen in June and a month after al-Maliki's
government was formed, is an independent. The United States demanded that the
defense and interior posts be held by officials without ties to the Shiite
political parties that control militia forces.
Al-Maliki is under pressure both from his people and the United States to
curb violence, with Washington leaning on him to disband Shiite militias
believed responsible, through their death squads, for much of the killings.
Al-Maliki is dependent on both Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq, with its Badr Brigade military wing, and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr's political movement for his hold on power.
The interior minister controls police and other security forces which already
are infiltrated by the Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army, the armed wing of
al-Sadr's political movement.
After nearly 48 hours without reporting a death, the US military said three
soldiers assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Saturday of
combat wounds in Anbar Province, the insurgent stronghold west of the capital.
Their deaths raised to 2,848 the number of service members who have had died
since the start of the war in March 2003.
Four British servicemen were killed in an attack on a patrol boat in Basra's
Shatt al-Arab waterway, southern Iraq, the Ministry of Defense said in