Gulf & Middle East
Al-Sadr's political movement to leave Iraqi government
Apr 16, 2007 - 12:18:09 PM

Baghdad, April 16 - The political movement of US critic, Shia cleric and militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr Monday said its six ministers would leave the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Its departure from the administration comes because al-Maliki refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, a leading politician in the movement told the Iraqi news agency Aswat al-Irak.

Political observers said they do not believe the departure of the party, which holds 30 of parliament's 275 seats, would lead to the fall of al-Maliki's government, but they said it could cause tensions within the Shia coalition, which holds 130 seats.

The political news came at the end of a bloody weekend in Iraq when about 80 civilians, including dozens of Shia pilgrims, women and children, were killed in insurgent bombings.

In Karbala, one of the holiest cities for Shia, 40 people died and 160 were injured Saturday when a suicide car bomb blew up in front of a bus station.

In Baghdad, 24 people died and 55 were injured Sunday in bombings, including one on a bus in the largely Shia district of Kadhimiya.

On Saturday, the second suicide bomber in three days blew himself up on a Baghdad bridge, killing at least 10 people and injuring 15. The Jadriyah bridge in southern Baghdad received light damage.

Two British soldiers also died Sunday when their helicopters crashed north of Baghdad and a third was seriously injured, British defence secretary Des Browne said.

An Iraqi military spokesman said Sunday that in the two months since the start of a new security plan for Baghdad, 1,041 people have been killed in the capital. He said 107 belonged to the Iraqi military and police and 188 were extremists killed by security forces.

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