Saturday, May 19, 2007

Report: Leading Sadr aide Khafaji arrested at Basra airport, many others arrested in Karbala

Sheikh Aws Khafaji is Sadr's representative in southern Iraq.

Basra, May 19, (VOI) - British forces on Saturday arrested a leading figure from the Sadr movement, followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, while trying to travel from Basra international airport in southern Iraq, eyewitnesses said.

"British forces this morning arrested Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji at Basra airport while he was on his way to travel from Iraq," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

Another eyewitness said "the arrest occurred in the departure hall of the airport."

Sheikh Aws al-Khafaji is a leading figure from the Sadr movement. He was deputized by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to be the Friday sermon imam in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriyah.

No word has been heard so far from the British forces on the arrest. Basra is 550 km south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

From VOI

Karbala, May 19, (VOI)- Iraqi forces raided houses of ten officials working at Sadr's office near the Shiite city of Karbala and arrested their families, a source from Sadr's office in Karbala said on Saturday.

"Iraqi forces raided over night the houses of ten Sadr's office officials in al-Hindiyah district and arrested officials' families," the source, who asked not to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

Al-Hindiyah district is 20 km east of Karbala city, 108 km southwest of Baghdad.

The source did not give the names of the officials whose families were arrested, the cause of the arrest and whether the officials were present at home when the forces raided their houses.

"The Sadr's office denounces the arrest and demands an immediate release of the families," the source said.

From VOI