Shiite Militia Seizes Control of Iraq City

Shiite Militia Seizes Control of Iraq City
October 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Shiite Militia Seizes Control of Iraq City

Shiite Militia Seizes Control of Iraq City
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 20 October 2006


BAGHDAD, Iraq_The Shiite militia run by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr
seized total control of the southern Iraqi city of Amarah on Friday in one
of the boldest acts of defiance yet by one of the country's powerful,
unofficial armies, witnesses and police said.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dispatched an emergency security delegation
that included the Minister of State for Security Affairs and top officials
from the Interior and Defense ministries, Yassin Majid, the prime minister's
media adviser, told The Associated Press.

The Mahdi Army fighters stormed three main police stations Friday morning,
planting explosives that flattened the buildings, residents said.

About 800 black-clad militiamen with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled
grenade launchers were patrolling city streets in commandeered police
vehicles, eyewitnesses said. Other fighters had set up roadblocks on routes
into the city and sound trucks circulated telling residents to stay indoors.

Fighting broke out in Amara on Thursday after the head of police
intelligence in the surrounding province, a member of the rival Shiite Badr
Brigade militia, was killed by a roadside bomb, prompting his family to
kidnap the teenage brother of the local head of the a-Madhi Army.

The Mahdi Army seized several police stations and clamped a curfew on the
city in retaliation.

At least 15 people, including five militiamen, one policeman and two
bystanders, have been killed in clashes since Friday, Dr. Zamil Shia,
director of Amarah's department of health, said by telephone from Amarah.

The events in the city highlight the threat of wider violence between rival
Shiite factions, who have entrenched themselves among the majority Shiite
population and are blamed for killings of rival Sunnis.

Mahdi Army militiamen have long enjoyed a free rein in Amarah, the
provincial capital of the southern province of Maysan. The militiamen often
summon local government officials for meetings at their offices, and they
roam the city with their weapons, manipulate the local police and set up
checkpoints at will.

Since British troops left Amarah in August, residents say the militia has
been involved in a series of killings, including slayings of merchants
suspected of selling alcohol and women alleged to have engaged in behavior
deemed immoral by militiamen.

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