An aide says Iraq's prime minister has given gunmen in the southern oil port of Basra a three-day deadline to surrender their weapons and sign a pledge renouncing violence.
Sadiq al-Rikabi, an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has told The Associated Press that gunmen who fail to turn over their weapons to police stations by Friday will be targeted for arrest.
The ultimatum comes as the Shiite prime minister was in Basra to supervise a crackdown against the spiraling violence between militia factions vying for control of Iraq's second-largest city.
Iraqi officials say at least 40 people have died in two days of fighting between the extremists and Iraqi security forces in Basra.
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