Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, warned Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday night to quell violence or risk "other powers" filling the gap.
The Two met in Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, while police found the tortured and blindfolded bodies of 13 Pakistani and Indian pilgrims and their Iraqi driver who were ambushed and killed on their way to the Shiite holy city of Karbala.
At least 15 violent deaths were reported elsewhere in Iraq on Saturday, while the government announced it had formally taken over the notorious Abu Ghraib prison from coalition authorities.
"If the government does not do its duty in imposing security and order to the people and protecting them, it will give a chance to other powers to do this duty and this a very dangerous matter," al-Sistani's office quoted him as saying.
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