Al-Sadr Blames Al-Qaida for Baghdad Attack

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose directives can send thousands of heavily armed militiamen spilling into the streets, called for calm Monday and blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for the carnage in Baghdad's Sadr City slum that killed at least 48 people.

Speaking at a news conference in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, al-Sadr also sought to blunt rage against Iraq's minority Sunni Muslim community in a bid to prevent the country from slipping into full-blown civil war.

"We are not weak, but we don't want to be dragged to a civil war. So, I will keep calling for calm," the firebrand cleric said.

By blaming Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida fighters for the attack, al-Sadr lifted the onus of blame from the mainstream Sunni community.

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