Iraqi Prime Minister Announces Peace Plan; Curfew Extended

The security developments come as 14 Iraqis were kidnapped from computer stores near Baghdad’s Technical University where they worked. Monday’s mass kidnapping is the second in as many days after gunmen seized 24 workers from a food factory in Baghdad and loaded them into a refrigerated truck Sunday evening.

Two workers were shot and wounded in the attack. And seven bodies identified as some of the abductees were found in a Sunni neighborhood later Sunday, said Police Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq, according to the Associate Press.

“It is the time that the government takes serious and urgent steps to disband these criminal organizations and to save the people from their harm,” Sunni lawmakers said in a statement.

In the prime minister’s plan — announced on live television Monday evening — several local commissions would be created for each district in Baghdad and managed by the Central Committee for Peace and Security. The commissions, made up of representatives from rival political parties, local tribal leaders and Iraqi military commanders would help security forces quell the growing tide of sectarian violence in Baghdad.

Other points of al-Maliki’s plan include controls placed on the media and a monthly review of the entire plan.

“We have taken the decision to end sectarian hatred once and for all,” al-Maliki said at a news conference. “We have vowed before almighty God to stop the bloodshed.”

Over the weekend, the streets of Baghdad were deserted due to a 36-hour vehicle and pedestrian curfew in place from Friday evening to Sunday morning. The curfew came after Khudar Farhan, the bodyguard of a leading Sunni politician, was detained by police for his suspected involvement in a bomb plot and being a member of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Although the U.S. military said Farhan’s arrest “in no way implies Dr. al-Dulaimi was associated with any illegal activity,” Shiite politicians accused the Sunni party of links with terrorist activities.

Soon after the curfew was lifted, 50 bodies, some beheaded and showing signs of torture, were discovered across Baghdad from Sunday to Monday morning. Thirteen more bodies of people who had been shot were found, and at least 19 others were killed in shootings and bombings throughout Monday.

In response to the explosion of violence, Iraqi lawmakers extended the state of emergency in place since November 2004 another month until Nov. 1. The measure allows the government to make arrests without warrants, launch police and military operations, and create nighttime curfews.

“This extension of the state of emergency is needed because we are still in a big confrontation with terrorism. Terrorists are planning to break into crucial areas. We have information proving that,” Abdul Karim al-Inazi, a Shiite politician, told the AP.

In other violence across Iraq, three U.S. Marines died in western Anbar province while a British soldier was killed in a mortar attack in Basra Saturday.