Monday, July 18, 2005

Frustrated Iraqis ready to take law into own hands: Netscape News/Reuters

News: "Frustrated Iraqis ready to take law into own hands

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis have begun barricading themselves in their homes and forming neighborhood militias in an effort to fend off relentless suicide attacks, residents in the capital said on Monday.

The measures come amid waning confidence in the Iraqi police and other security forces as they struggle to get on top of the two-year-old insurgency. In the latest attack, 98 people were killed by a suicide truck bomb south of Baghdad on Saturday.

A senior member of Iraq's parliament on Sunday called for popular militias to be created as an extra line of defense against the militants, and criticized the government for failing to stop the bombs.

'The plans of the interior and defense ministries to impose security in Iraq have failed,' Khudair al-Khuzai told parliament during a heated session following the latest blast. 'We need to bring back popular militias,' he said, without expanding.

While there was some backing for his proposal, there are concerns militias formed along sectarian lines could lead the country ever closer to civil war, with Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs already involved in tit-for-tat killings.

Despite that fear, local militias have already been formed in several Baghdad areas, and at least two Shi'ite political movements have their own powerful private armies.

In the Sadiya district in the south of the capital, residents have introduced a neighborhood watch program which involves men armed with pistols and AK-47s walking the streets from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on alert for attackers.

They carry a piece of paper signed by the Iraqi army granting them permission to carry out the patrols.

In several other districts residents have blocked off streets with the trunks of chopped-down palm trees, or with large concrete flower pots, to try to stop suicide car bombers. "

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