SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Baghdad remains under curfew after a bloody week in which hundreds were killed and the capital slipped closer and closer to all-out civil war. A string of bombings in the Shiite slum of Sadr City killed more than 200 people and set off reprisal attacks by Shiite militia, and now there are reports that the curfew could be extended because of fears of more violence. NPR's Jamie Tarabay is in Baghdad. Jamie, thanks for being with us.
JAMIE TARABAY: Thank you, Scott.
SIMON: And more reports of violence today aren't there?
TARABAY: That's right. We have been able to confirm that late last night, Sunni gunmen in retaliation for the attacks against Sunni mosques and neighborhoods in Baghdad, drove out to Diyala province, which is just outside Baghdad, and entered a Shiite village called Shan Musayab(ph), and there these men dressed in the uniform of the Iraqi National Guard - the Iraqi National Guard is part of the army, which is predominantly Sunni, as opposed to the Iraqi police, which is predominantly Shiite - these men grabbed 11 Shiite men from one house, all reportedly related to each other, and 10 others from different homes in the area, then took them away. And this morning their relatives found their bodies on the edge of this village.
SIMON: What is the Iraqi government doing to try and stop these attacks, the police or army?
TARABAY: Well, yesterday they didn't really seem to be doing too much. The Iraqi police are accused of being infiltrated by many of the Shiite militia and acting in collusion with them. What the Iraqi government is trying to do at the moment is try and restore calm. They're appealing to everyone, asking everyone to, you know, exercise some degree of restraint. And today they seem to be taking their responsibilities a bit more seriously. There are more roadblocks, there are more police out of the streets, and they seem to be trying to enforce the curfew today, because yesterday you wouldn't have known there was a curfew because of the level of violence.
SIMON: Of course Prime Minister al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with President Bush next week, but there are some groups in the country that are threatening to boycott this government if the meeting takes place. Who's making these threats? How seriously should they be taken?
TARABAY: The people behind the threats belong to the political group that supports Muqtada al-Sadr, who is the anti-American cleric who has blamed all of this violence on the American military occupation of Iraq. He hasn't turned the finger inwards or blamed any of the Sunnis or their leaders or their groups. He says that this is all being caused by the U.S. troops and he wants them out immediately. He's also Prime Minister Maliki's biggest political supporter. Maliki would not have become prime minister if he didn't get that extra vote from Sadr's coalition. And now Sadr's coalition are threatening to pull out of the government if Maliki does go and meet with Bush next week.
They have made these threats before. They did the same thing when Prime Minister Maliki was traveling to Washington not too long ago and said that they would also withdraw if he went ahead with the visit. He went ahead with the visit. Nothing happened. But we're going to see what happens this week if the prime minister does indeed go ahead. He has to, really. He's under pressure from Washington to, I guess, give a progress report to say where he's at in terms of helping bring the country about to some degree of law and order. And this is part of the discussion that he and President Bush had some weeks ago when they were talking about speeding up the transfer of the security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.
And it's going to be very interesting to see where they go from here, considering the events of the last week.
SIMON: NPR's Jamie Tarabay in Baghdad. Thank you.
TARABAY: Thank you.
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