Violence after U.S. troops raid Iraq Shi'ite office

Violence after U.S. troops raid Iraq Shi'ite office
September 14th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Violence after U.S. troops raid Iraq Shi'ite office

Violence after U.S. troops raid Iraq Shi'ite office
Media: Reuters
Byline: n/a
Date: 14 September 2006

U.S. troops raided an office of the political movement led by radical
Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in a southern Iraqi city on Thursday and
several people were hurt in subsequent disturbances, witnesses said.

Followers of Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought the Iraqi army in the
city two weeks ago, said U.S. troops raided their headquarters in Diwaniya,
180 km (115 miles) south of Baghdad, around 4 a.m. (OOOO GMT), removing
computers and papers.

A local journalist saw soldiers return to the area of the office, on a
crowded, narrow commercial street, some hours later. People around the
office threw rocks at the Americans, and there was some shooting and
explosions, he said.

A woman and her daughter were hurt, apparently in a blast.

After the U.S. force withdrew, several dozen Sadr supporters marched to the
office of the local governor's office. Guards there opened fire on them,
wounding four, the reporter said.

At least 20 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the August 28 battle with the
militia. Commanders said about 50 guerrillas were killed, though Mehdi Army
leaders put their casualties at three.

A Polish military helicopter was forced down by gunfire during the fighting,
which highlighted factional power struggles among Iraq's now dominant
Shi'ite majority, especially in the oil-rich, overwhelmingly Shi'ite south
of the country.

A deal brokered in the nearby holy city of Najaf between Sadr and the local
governor, who represents the rival Shi'ite party SCIRI, brought an end to
hours of clashes.

A U.S. force with dozens of vehicles including tanks was then dispatched to
the Polish-run base in the hitherto peaceful, city, Iraqi commanders said.
The Americans have mounted patrols and Sadr aides have told his followers
not to confront them.
Hundreds of Mehdi Army fighters were killed in two abortive uprisings
against U.S. and British occupation in 2004.

Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has promised to disband militias from
all communities and to build up the Iraqi security forces. It is not clear,
however, how he aims to persuade the likes of the Mehdi Army to lay down its

Many in the once dominant Sunni minority blame Sadr's followers for
sectarian death squad killings, a charge the young cleric vehemently denies.
U.S. officials say Sadr is not in full control of the movement that owes him
allegiance, however.

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