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Iraqi Prime Minister Vows to Stop Insurgency


Iraq's prime minister says his new security plan for Baghdad will leave no sanctuaries for militants to hide, not mosques, schools, or offices of political parties. VOA's Jim Randle reports from Baghdad, where Mr. Maliki spoke to a stormy session of Parliament.

In a speech to parliament, Mr. Maliki urged politicians from all of Iraq's communities to support the new security plan.

He says his plan is part of a continuous battle with terrorists, rather than a one-time effort.

Discussion in parliament became so heated at times that the video and sound of the proceedings were briefly turned off until lawmakers could calm down.

The spiraling cycle of violence on Baghdad's streets is blamed on Sunni insurgents, and their Shi'ite militia rivals. One such militia is loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a key supporter of the Maliki government.

In the past, Mr. Maliki has been reluctant to allow military and police forces to pursue some Shi'ite militia groups, but he repeated a pledge that officials will track down anyone who breaks the law, regardless of politics or religion.

Meanwhile at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi said he did not think the insurgent groups had the support of the Iraqi people.

"We think those organizations, those terrorists and insurgency organizations and militias; we do not think they are popular," he said. "We think they are taking the country and society as hostages and targeting easy targets, markets, schools, any easy targets, civilians, etc."

Late in the day in Baghdad, two mortar shells struck the heavily-fortified Green Zone and shortly after a car bomb caused at least two deaths on the city's east bank of the Tigris River.

Earlier, at least four Iraqis died and more were wounded when a motorcycle laden with explosives blew up in a central Baghdad market.

Also in Baghdad, an Iraqi court postponed a decision on whether to execute Saddam Hussein's former deputy, Taha Yassin Ramadan, for crimes against humanity.

The court had been expected to change Ramadan's sentence after an appeals court said his life-sentence was too lenient. Saddam and two other co-defendants have already been executed for crimes committed during his years in power.

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