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Iraqi militia battle police amid surge in violence
Cat : War Against Iraq
Date : 2006-10-20 23:44:40                      Reader : 399
All institutions made after U.S. colonization are not legal at all. The result is quite evident: Iraq split into cantons, and civil war of 100 deaths per day, together with 9 military bases under construction, and control of oil wealth of Iraq ! Iraq is the example and model for new Middle East !!


 Associated France Press (AFP) 20/10/2006

Iraqi militia battle police amid surge in violence


by Fadel Mushatat

AMARA, Iraq (AFP) - Shiite militiamen have fought deadly street battles with Iraqi police in the southern city of Amara, after overnight clashes left 18 dead.

Almost 100 poeple were wounded as hundreds of armed fighters from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army destroyed police stations and clashed with officers, while Sadr sent senior aides to negotiate a truce.

"My brothers in Amara, the dear city, I ask all to abide by patience and not to be misled by the schemes of the occupier who is seeking to divide the brothers in order to incite sedition," Sadr said in a statement.

Gunfire was still audible in the city after 4:00 pm, however, after the end of a two-hour ceasefire called to enable peace talks.

A spokesman for the British military, which has security responsibility in southern Iraq, denied reports that the town had fallen to the Mahdi Army, but said the situation remained very tense.

"We're looking at 200 to 300 gunmen that are operating as a rogue element of the militias in that town. It's very difficult to take control of a town of that size with a group of 300 gunmen," Major Charlie Burbridge said.

Amara is a provincial capital and home to an estimated 350,000 people.

"The focus of the aggression was on two police stations with a third, a police headquarters, being a secondary target as well. So it's very localised," Burbridge said.

"The Iraqi police service are in Amara. The Iraqi Army are reinforcing their positions just south of Amara and have sent up approximately 700 troops to support the Iraqi police," he added.

A British battle group of 600 troops backed by attack jets and armoured vehicles is standing by to intervene if Iraqi forces need support, he said.

However, Burbridge added: "We're waiting for an Iraqi political solution and we're confident we'll get one."

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dispatched a delegation headed by the state minister for security affairs, Shirwan al-Waeli, to resolve the crisis.

Fighting erupted in Amara after police arrested a Mahdi Army militiaman suspected of killing a local intelligence officer.

"There are 18 dead, some of them gunmen, and 97 wounded, including militia, police and civilians," said Zamil al-Oreibi, medical director of the city's health department, updating an earlier casualty report.

Fighting concentrated in the areas around both the police headquarters and the Sadr Movement's office in the city, and three police stations belonging to elite police units were set ablaze.

On Wednesday, the chief of Amara's police intelligence service was killed along with three colleagues by a roadside bomb. The next day a Mahdi Army leader was arrested, provoking a reprisal attack by his supporters.

British troops patrolled Amara until August, when they pulled out of a base on the outskirts of the city that was coming under regular mortar attack and handed over security duties to Iraqi forces.

Following the withdrawal the British base was looted and the Mahdi Army -- a loosely-organised militia force nominally loyal to Sadr, the leader of a radical Shiite faction -- declared victory over the "occupier".

Southern Iraq's population is overwhelmingly Shiite and Maysan province, of which Amara is the capital, has been spared much of the sectarian violence that has ravaged mixed Sunni and Shiite areas around Baghdad.

However, Shiite militias often battle over political power and oil resources, and British troops are regularly targeted.

Elsewhere in Iraq, mortar fire rained down on a strife-torn town north of Balad and sectarian death squads hunted civilians in the killing fields near the restive town of Baquba, north of the capital.

The overnight mortar fire killed nine people and wounded 12 in the town of Balad, police said.

The rounds hit a residential neighbourhood of the mainly Shiite city where sectarian violence claimed dozens of lives this week.

Three civilians were killed and three others wounded when gunmen launched an attack on the Shiite market town of Khalis near Baquba which has also seen a spike in sectarian killings.

The night before, 10 civilians were killed when Khalis's market was bombed.

And in Baghdad, an overnight mortar attack killed five Palestinian refugees and wounded 11 more living in a fortified compound in east Baghdad.

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