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Iraq To Extend Arms-For-Cash

18 October 2004 -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced plans today to roll out an arms-for-cash program across the country.

Allawi said that the weeklong weapons-for-cash program to disarm the militia of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad's Al-Sadr City proved to be a success.

Colonel Sharik Zayir of the Iraqi National Guard, a member of the committee collecting arms from militants, said the Al-Sadr City program was also extended.

"We extended the deadline [for militia to surrender their weapons] for another three days due to the large quantity of weapons which have come in," Zayir said. "We are able to absorb a quarter of what has been returned. Even the three-day extension is not enough. The purpose of this is to disarm Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, and Sayyed Muqtada and his militia have responded fully and have brought in their medium and heavy weapons."

The International Committee of the Red Cross today said it has sent 1.5 tons of urgent medical and surgical equipment to a hospital in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Al-Fallujah.

The Iraqi government had earlier announced a $2 million aid package to residents of Al-Fallujah.

In other developments, the Macedonian government today said it was investigating a report by Arabic television Al-Jazeera claiming that two Macedonian hostages accused of spying for the U.S. have been killed by militants.