From MSNBC, with thanks to Skeetstreet:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi and U.S.-led forces raided parts of an Iraqi town on Saturday searching for Shiite hostages threatened with death by Sunni rebels, an Iraqi minister told an Arabic television channel.
The city is now under the control of Iraqi and multinational forces….They are raiding areas where it is suspected that hostages may be,” Kassim Daoud told al Arabiya television, referring to a standoff in Madain, just south of Baghdad.
Earlier Saturday, government officials and a Shiite political group said Sunni militants took about 70 Shiite males hostage in the central Iraqi town and threatened to kill them unless all Shiites left the town.
“There were about 100 masked men, riding in cars, roaming the city. They took hostages from the Shiite youth and old men, and demanded the Shiites leave the city,” said Haitham Husseini, spokesman for the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, Iraq’s largest Shiite group. “The families contacted us yesterday and they asked for our help. There is a fear now among the women and children.”
Husseini said insurgents who follow the fundamentalist Muslim brand of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism were trying to spark sectarian strife in the town. But he said Shiites would not retaliate.
In a mosque in eastern Baghdad, Iraqi police arrested a cleric in the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars. Dia’a al-Jewari was detained on suspicion of having links with insurgent groups, Iraqi police officer Hamza Lazim said.
The arrest came a day after Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai, an important Sunni cleric in the association, urged Iraq’s new president to buck U.S. pressure and free thousands of suspected rebels, a sign that the religious group most often associated with Iraq’s insurgency might be willing to work with the new government….
Eleven detainees upset about their treatment by U.S. captors escaped Saturday from the military’s largest detention center in Iraq by climbing through a hole in the fence….
“We decided to flee the prison because of the bad treatment and delay in investigations,” 24-year-old Hussein Nima said….
Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, a military spokesman, said officials confirmed that 11 prisoners were missing after discovering the hole. He denied allegations of mistreatment, saying the inmates get three meals a day, access to shower facilities, prayer rugs and a copy of the Quran.…
Those Qur’ans really come in handy when you need to study up on jihad.