Iraqi tension buildsafter terror arrest

Published October 2, 2006

BAGHDAD - Shiite politicians demanded changes in the Iraqi government Sunday, accusing a Sunni Arab party in the coalition of ties to terrorism after a bodyguard of its leader was arrested on suspicion of planning bomb attacks.

The dispute threatened a sectarian crisis within the national unity government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which is struggling to contain spiraling Shiite-Sunni killings that the U.S. ambassador said have surpassed Sunni insurgent attacks in deadliness.

The potential government crisis erupted after U.S. troops arrested a bodyguard of leading Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi on Friday, saying the man was suspected of leading an al-Qaida-linked cell that was "in the final stages" of carrying out a string of bombings in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, the center of government and home to the U.S. and British embassies.

On Sunday, Baha el-Deen al-Araji, a lawmaker from the party of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, accused Sunni politicians of having "direct and indirect links to Saddamists, Takfiris (Sunni radicals) and terrorists."

He demanded a "significant cabinet reshuffle" to change "ministries of security and public services dossiers."

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, sought to contain the political fallout, underlining in a joint statement that "the arrested individual had no ties to al-Dulaimi's family, nor is al-Dulaimi connected in any way to the suspect activities of the individual." Dulaimi denied any connection to militants.

Also Sunday:

- At least 23 people were killed in violence, and 21 bodies were found in Baghdad or to the south, many of them bound and tortured. In the evening, gunmen burst into a frozen food factory in Baghdad, kidnapping 24 workers and wounding two others.

- The U.S. military reported that two American soldiers were killed Saturday in fighting in western Anbar province - bringing to at least 70 the number of U.S. troops killed in September, the second-highest monthly toll this year.