(AFP) – Jul 2, 2008
AMARA, Iraq (AFP) — Iraqi forces on Wednesday arrested a provincial governor identified as a member of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's movement, a government official and an aide of the hardline leader said.
Adel Muhoder al-Maliki, governor of Maysan province, was detained hours after three members of the provincial council were arrested in a continuing crackdown on Shiite militants in the southern region of Iraq, they said.
"We consider the arrest of the governor as a political decision rather than a judicial decision," Liwa Sumaysim, head of the political bureau of the Sadr movement, told AFP.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a provincial government official confirmed Maliki's arrest.
His detention came after Maysan provincial council chief Sheikh Abduljabbar Wahid and two other members of the local administration, Fadhel Nama Zabun and Abdul Latif Juwad, were arrested early Wednesday.
Sumaysim criticised the arrests of the four officials as potentially destabilising for the province, as government soldiers continue to sweep the region for hardline militants.
"The arrests are unjustified considering that the Sadr movement has been cooperating in the operation," he said.
"The timing of the arrests are inappropriate because we are in need of measures that could stabilise the situation and not destabilise."
The three members of the council were detained in an early morning raid in Amara, the capital of Masyan.
They were hauled in for supporting Shiite militiamen, a police official said.
Iraqi forces launched a military sweep of Amara and Maysan on June 19 and so far more than 100 people are in custody, including many members belonging to the Sadr movement and its military wing, the Mahdi Army.
The crackdown is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to stabilise an Iraq battling sectarian infighting that has killed tens of thousands of people.
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