March 29th, 2009 in Breaking News, Disarming Civilians

Iraq orders Sunni gunmen in Baghdad area to disarm.

BAGHDAD – Iraqi troops using loudspeakers ordered members of an armed Sunni neighborhood group in Baghdad to turn in their weapons Sunday after the arrest of their leader sparked fierce gunbattles with American and Iraqi troops.

The two-day standoff in Fadhil, a ramshackle Sunni enclave on the east bank of the Tigris River where al-Qaida once held sway, appeared to die down temporarily by midday as convoys of U.S. and Iraqi rolled into the neighborhood. But the confrontation threatens to undermine U.S. efforts to stabilize Baghdad before American troops pull out of Iraqi cities by the end of June.

The trouble started Saturday when Iraqi troops arrested the head of Fadhil’s Awakening Council for alleged terrorist activity. The arrest triggered fierce gunfights between Iraqi forces and Awakening Council members, killing four people and wounding 15.