Sectarian Threats Lead to Extension of Iraqi Curfew

Baghdad remains under curfew for a second successive day. The city was relatively calm as the government worked to clamp down on the sectarian violence that threatened to push the country into an all-out civil war.

The rate of attacks exploded this week, as suspected Sunni fighters killed more than 200 people in a series of orchestrated attacks. In response, Shiite militias went on a rampage Friday.

Late Friday night, Sunni gunmen dressed in the uniform of the Iraqi army entered a village northwest of Baghdad, where they took 11 Shiite men from one house, along with 10 others. The mens' bodies were found Saturday morning.

The curfew extends to government offices, banks, shops and schools. Baghdad's airport is also closed.

The violence has forced Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to postpone his much-anticipated visit to Tehran to seek Iran's help in stemming the violence.

President Bush is scheduled to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, in the coming week. But some members of the Iraqi government have threatened to pull out if Maliki goes through with the meeting.

Host Debbie Elliott talks with NPR's Jamie Tarabay.



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