Iraq: Nine killed in anti-occupation clashes

Nine Iraqis have been killed and 44 wounded in ferocious clashes between US forces and Iraqi resistance fighters.

    Overnight fighting in Najaf left many injured

    In Kufa, six people were killed and 32 wounded in battles which

    erupted on Tuesday night between US soldiers and Shia Muslim militiamen loyal to Shia leader

     Muqtadar al-Sadr.

    One fighter

     was killed and 21 wounded during fighting on

    Wednesday near two

    mosques in the centre of the city. And another

     five were killed and 11 wounded overnight.

    In the nearby city of Najaf, one person was killed and 12 were

     

    injured when three mortar shells hit an industrial zone close to

    a US base, according to a medical source at the al-Hakim hospital.

    The fighting broke out after Najaf Governor Adnan

    al-Zorfi announced a 72-hour truce in the area. But al-Sadr's office

    denied a new deal had been struck.

    'Truce violation'

    Two militiamen were also killed in Baghdad's poverty-stricken Shia neighbourhood of Sadr

    City, an official from al-Sadr's office there said.

    "There is no truce with the Americans. If they enter the town

    (Sadr City), we open fire," said Kazem Jamal.

    Shia House - a grouping of Shia political parties - issued a

    statement accusing US troops of responsibility for the renewed

    fighting in Najaf and Kufa.

    Six Iraqis were killed in Kufa
    during the clashes

    "We blame occupation forces for the renewed clashes in Kufa and

    Najaf including the attack on the industrial neighbourhood this

    morning," it said.

    "It is a clear violation of the truce and is an obstacle towards

    reaching a peaceful resolution to the crisis and contrary to the

    terms of Ambassador Christopher Ross' letter."

    Daily violence

    Ross, a former US ambassador to Syria and Algeria, is a trouble

    shooter for US occupation administrator, Paul Bremer.

    He has been deeply involved in finding an exit from the

    two-month standoff between al-Sadr's militia and the US army.

    Ross gave the green light on Tuesday, before the latest

    clashes, to a 72-hour truce thrashed out the night before between

    Shia leaders and occupation military commanders, according to

    Zorfi.

    A truce effort last week was punctured by daily

    violence.

    On Monday, around 20 members of al-Sadr's Mahdi army, two US

    soldiers and an Iraqi mother were killed in the running battles

    around Najaf.

    SOURCE: AFP


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