Iraq PM Warns Sunni Provinces Against Independence

By: AP
By: AP

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's prime minister is warning that efforts to
create an autonomous Sunni region within Iraq would divide the
country and lead to "rivers of blood."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (NOO'-ree ahl-MAHL'-ih-kee) met
with representatives from one the three provinces in Iraq dominated
by Sunni Muslims. He told them that while the country's
constitution allows for autonomy, he opposes "dividing Iraq on a
sectarian basis."

Tensions between Sunnis and Shiites have grown rapidly in the
days since U.S. troops left the country.

The minority Sunnis fear that the Shiite majority will squeeze them out of any political say.

Shiites suspects Sunnis of have links to insurgents in the country.

Al-Maliki's government has issued an arrest warrant for Iraq's
Sunni vice president on terrorism charges, accusing Tariq al-Hashemi of running hit squads.

Al-Hashemi accuses al-Maliki of plotting to smear him and waging a campaign of persecution against Sunnis.

Meanwhile, anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (mook-TAH'-duh ahl SAH'-dur) has proposed the country adopt a "peace code" that urges respect for all religions and ethnic groups.

A wave of bombings across Baghdad on Thursday killed 69 people
and wounded nearly 200.

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