Official: Iraq militia chief behind pilgrim blasts

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 22, 2011 11:37

BAGHDAD — A top Iraqi security commander has announced the arrest of a government-backed Sunni Muslim militia leader on charges of being behind the deadly suicide bombings against Shiite pilgrims this week.

Maj. Gen. Numan Dakhil said Saturday that security forces were tipped off about the Awakening Council chief in Hillah just hours after the Thursday blasts that killed 56.

Dakhil said the militiaman's assistant also was arrested but refused to give more details.

Also known as Sahwa or Sons of Iraq, the Awakening Councils are made up of Sunni fighters who sided with U.S. forces against al-Qaida in a crucial turning point of the war.

But they complain they have been sidelined by Iraq's Shiite government ever since.


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