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Kidnappings Continue But Cleric Calls Back his men

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A radical Shiite cleric pulled his gunmen out of police stations and government facilities in the holy city of Najaf and neighbouring Kufa today.

The move partially met a US demand for ending the stand-off in southern Iraq.

Police were back on the streets and in their stations for the first time in days since the al-Mahdi Army militia of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took control last week.

Few of the black-garbed gunmen of al-Mahdi Army were seen in Najaf?s streets, except around its holy shrines in the centre of the city, where al-Sadr?s main office is located. Al-Sadr, who US forces have vowed to capture, is thought to be in the office.

In nearby Kufa, police were back in the main police station. Few al-Sadr gunmen were in the streets there, and their numbers were lower around their main stronghold in the city, the main Kufa mosque, witnesses said.

?Al-Sayed al-Sadr issued instructions for his followers to leave the sites of police and the government,? said lawyer Murtada al-Janabi, one of al-Sadr?s representatives in negotiations to end the US stand-off with al-Sadr.

The Americans, who are not taking part in the talks, also demand the dissolution in the al-Mahdi Army.

Al-Janabi said al-Sadr?s supporters reject the demand that the militia dissolve. He called the demand ?ridiculous. Dissolving the al-Mahdi Army would be very difficult.?

Al-Sadr?s militia launched a bloody uprising on April 4, attacking US and coalition troops in Baghdad and cities across the south.

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Any news on the American that was kinapped yet? crying.gif

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