Fighting in southern Iraq
In Samawah, a city in southern Iraq, Shia militiamen were reported to have attacked the police headquarters and provincial offices on Sunday.
Brigadier Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the interior ministry in Baghdad, said five police officers had been killed in the fighting which was still under way on Sunday afternoon.
Khalaf said that a curfew was in place and that reinforcements were on the way.
He did not identify the attackers, but police said they belonged to a militia formed by Muqtada al-Sadr.
A police official in Samawah said fighters from the militia, the al-Mahdi army, attacked the police headquarters and provincial offices with rocket-propelled grenades, and deployed gunmen on rooftops.
About 40 suspected militiamen were reportedly captured in the fighting.
Al-Sadr has lost control of some elements of his militia, and it was unclear whether the gunmen in Samawah considered themselves loyal to the cleric or not.
Khalaf said tribal leaders were trying to intervene to stop the violence in the city, the capital of Muthana province.
The city lies on the Euphrates river about 370km southeast of Baghdad.
Muthana was handed over to Iraqi forces in July.
“No multinational forces are there at all,” Major Charlie Burbridge, spokesman for British forces in the neighboring province of Basra, said.