Almotamar.net Google News - The Health Ministry is regarded as a haven for Shiite militias, with both al-Zamli and his boss, Health Minister Ali al-Shemari, members of the movement of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Baghdad - Joint US-Iraqi forces seized Deputy Health Minister Hazem al-Zamli at the ministry on Thursday in a politically- charged raid aimed at terrorists and militias operating in Baghdad.
The Health Ministry is regarded as a haven for Shiite militias, with both al-Zamli and his boss, Health Minister Ali al-Shemari, members of the movement of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
In a statement, the US military alleged that al-Zamli was involved in the murder of seven ministry officials.
It also said he had taken bribe money and funnelled millions of dollars to Sadr's militias, known as the Mahdi army, which is suspected of having entered state clinics and killed Sunni patients and their relatives and intimidated doctors.
Al-Shemari reacted to the raid and seizure of his deputy by demanding his immediate release.
'Al-Zamli was detained in an uncivilized way,' he charged.
Analysts saw the US action at the Health Ministry as part of the new get-tough strategy to try to boost security in the Iraqi capital. On Wednesday, American officers had said the process would be one of many small individual steps and not a major offensive.
The raid came as meanwhile Defence Minister Abdelkader Mohammed Jazeem was being questioned behind closed doors in parliament.
Sunni deputies in parliament had requested the session with the defence minister, amid demands made by their Islamic Party of the government finally to take action against the militias who were operating under the cover of the security forces.
The Sunnis have also acused the US military of allowing the militias to operate.
Meanwhile in further bloodshed in the strife-torn country, at least 33 Iraqis were killed and 58 wounded in a series of blasts across Iraq over a 24-hour period, sources said Thursday.
Fourteen Iraqis were killed and 15 injured, some seriously, when a remote-controlled car bomb went off Thursday morning at a public market in Azziziyah, south of Baghdad, sources said.
The blast also damaged a number of stores close to the site.
Police arrested four Iraqi men and a woman suspected of being involved in the blast.
In another incident, four Iraqi policemen and one civilian were killed Thursday when gunmen attacked a police patrol in Baquba, 60 kilometres north-east of the capital, witnesses said.
In eastern Baghdad, at least six Iraqis were killed and 10 others wounded, some seriously, in a car bomb blast Thursday near a mosque in the Shiite Amin district, sources said.
Meanwhile, two explosive devices detonated Wednesday in Suwayrah city, killing at least eight Iraqis and wounding 20, an Iraqi police source said Thursday.
The devices exploded consecutively on a main street in Suwayrah, 50 kilometres south-east of Baghdad, the source added.