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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Iraq PM extends weapons amnesty
Arms being brought into a police station in Baghdad
Many weapons have been handed over in the past week
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said a drive to buy weapons from militants in Baghdad will be extended to other parts of the country.

Mr Allawi said the programme, which last week halted fighting with Shia militants in the Sadr City area of the capital, had been a success.

The deadline for militiamen in Baghdad to hand in their weapons is being extended until Thursday.

After that, security forces will search for illegal arms, Mr Allawi said.

The prime minister told Iraq's interim parliament: "We will open this disarmament initiative to all the cities in the country."

Iraqi interim PM Iyad Allawi
The government is determined to disarm cities and neighbourhoods because our forces are now ready to fight terrorists
Iyad Allawi
He said the extension would start in the southern, mainly Shia city of Basra.

Mr Allawi added that deadline in Sadr City was being extended "because some are not able to hand in their weapons in time".

He also said his government would send $2m worth of aid to the rebel-controlled city of Falluja.

The city, 100km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, has been bombed by US aircraft almost every night for several weeks.

Jordan has urged US and Iraqi government troops to end their offensive in Falluja.

"We call on all the parties to lift the siege on Falluja so that relief and medical teams can enter the city," a government spokeswoman said in Amman.

Meanwhile, violence has continued in various parts of Iraq:

  • Car bombers killed six people - including three police officers - in a suicide attack in Baghdad's diplomatic quarter late on Sunday

  • Another device went off in the same area shortly afterwards, leaving one dead and two injured

  • Earlier on Sunday, a car bomb killed five Iraqis and wounded 15 others in the northern city of Mosul

Joining politics?

The amnesty deal in Baghdad was struck on Tuesday between the interim government and supporters of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

The militiamen agreed to hand in heavy and medium-sized weaponry - mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions launchers - though they are keeping Kalashnikov rifles and small arms.

The government promised to pay for the weapons and earmarked $500m for the redevelopment of the Sadr City slum.

The New York Times says the success of the scheme has raised hopes that Mr Sadr will continue to move away from confrontation and enter Iraq's political process.

However, US troops believe Mr Sadr's militia must still hand over far more weaponry, the paper adds.




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