Maliki Seeks Momentum in Fight for Baghdad

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Iraqi police commando searches truck in Baghdad i

An Iraqi police commando searches a truck loaded with vegetables at a checkpoint inside Baghdad's Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Sadr City, Feb. 6, 2007. Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi police commando searches truck in Baghdad

An Iraqi police commando searches a truck loaded with vegetables at a checkpoint inside Baghdad's Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Sadr City, Feb. 6, 2007.

Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on the country's security forces to speed up their preparation for the Baghdad security operation he announced nearly a month ago. The plan calls for thousands of Iraqi and U.S. troops to deploy in the capital, in hopes of securing the city.

Prime Minister Maliki spoke to the nation for about half an hour, repeating the same points time and again: The situation in Baghdad is bad, Iraqis are suffering and time is running out. His remarks seemed to be aimed largely at the generals commanding Iraq's 10 army divisions.

The movement of Iraqi troops to the capital is a major plank in the troop increase that President Bush has ordered. But so far, the number of Iraqi troops coming to Baghdad is far below what had been promised.

As Baghdad waits for the security plan to go into effect, there has been no let-up in the violence. In all, more than 1,000 Iraqis have died in the last 10 days.

Today, there was news of another high-profile kidnapping. The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed that one of its diplomats was kidnapped in Baghdad last Sunday.

Jalal Sharafi, second secretary at Iran's embassy, was traveling through downtown Baghdad when armed men stopped his car, took him at gunpoint and sped away.

Witnesses say the abductors were wearing Iraqi commando uniforms and carried Iraqi military IDs. Iranian officials blame the U.S. for the kidnapping, saying the Iraqis were working under American command.

But a number of U.S. officials deny any American involvement in the kidnapping.

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