Shiite Cleric Rallies Followers After Baghdad Bombings Kill 72

Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shiite leader in Iraq, has offered to help stabilize the situation in the country following a bombing spree in Baghdad that killed more than 70 people on Friday.

In a statement, Sadr urged his followers to help the Iraqi military and police secure Shiite shrines to avoid the same bloodshed that occurred on Friday, which is now Iraq’s bloodiest day of the year. Sadr said “believers” should help authorities “defend their shrines, mosques, prayers, markets, houses, and their town.”

However, Sadr, who is a known anti-American political leader, said that his followers should act with restraint to prevent the eruption of violence. He said that any event that could worsen the situation in Iraq might derail the U.S. military’s scheduled pull-out from the country at the end of next year.

Several bombs exploded on Friday, targeting a number of Shiite mosques and a market. A total of 72 people died while close to 130 others were injured in the attacks that appear to have been perpetrated by Sunni insurgents.