[JURIST] The International Committee of the Red Cross [website] Friday called on individuals and groups in Iraq to comply with international humanitarian law [press release] while officials imposed daytime curfews in several Iraqi cities in an attempt to subdue a wave of violence resulting from Wednesday's bombing of the Askariya shrine [Telegraph report], one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites. The measures have thusfar helped to curb local violence, but violence continues in areas where the curfews were not imposed. The measure was aimed at preventing people from attending important Friday payers, which officials feared would be a target for further attacks. Late Friday local time the Iraqi government extended the curfew in Baghdad and three neighboring provinces through Saturday.
Some observers say the drastic curfew reflects the government's fear of an impending Sunni-Shiite civil war. The largest Sunni Arab bloc in the Iraq Parliament [JURIST news archive] announced Thursday it was pulling out of negotiations towards establishing a new government until the Shiite-dominated national leaders apologize for widespread retaliatory damage to Sunni mosques. The US backed Shiite and Sunni leaders who appealed for calm Thursday, and many US officials said they believe mainstream politicians understood the danger and would try to prevent a civil war. AP has more.