04-06-2008, 12:09 PM
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Fighting between U.S. troops and Shiite militants in Baghdad's Sadr City on Sunday has left at least 20 dead and 52 wounded, according to an Iraqi Interior Ministry official.
The clashes between the U.S. military and militiamen with the Mehdi Army broke out early Sunday and continued into the afternoon, the official said.
The U.S. military said it had no information about the fighting.
Sadr City is a Shiite area dominated by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.
• A Christian priest was shot and killed in eastern Baghdad's al-Wihda neighborhood around noon Saturday, according to Iraqi Interior Ministry official. The priest was identified as Father Yousif Adel. He belonged to St. Peter and Paul's Assyrian Orthodox Church.
• At least two people were killed Saturday and 16 others wounded when a bomb exploded in a minibus in eastern Baghdad's Beirut Square, the official said
04-06-2008, 01:17 PM
The Associated Press
updated 6:39 a.m. CT, Sun., April. 6, 2008
BAGHDAD - Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces battled Shiite fighters in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood overnight in clashes that killed 20 people and wounded more than 50 in the worst violence here since a cease-fire was declared a week ago.
Iraq on Sunday also saw a brief hostage crisis, when gunmen seized 42 students off a bus near the city of Mosul — al-Qaida’s last major urban stronghold. The students were later released unharmed.
The U.S. military said that fighting broke out overnight in Sadr City, a stronghold of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s militants. Officials at two local hospitals said 20 people were killed and 52 wounded. The sources did not say whether the casualties were civilians or fighters. U.S. and Iraqi forces released no information about the casualties.
A police officer said that a U.S. Stryker armored personnel carrier was damaged in the fighting, which continued with sporadic exchanges of fire through Sunday morning.
Two armored Humvee vehicles and two trucks belonging to the Iraqi army were also destroyed, said the officer, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The U.S. military said it had no information about a Stryker being damaged.
An Iraqi government offensive against the Mahdi army in the southern city of Basra ground to a halt last week amid fierce resistance. Al-Sadr issued a cease-fire order and the government agreed to halt raids against his followers.
Although scattered clashes continued between his fighters and Iraqi security forces, the Iraqi government relaxed security measures Saturday around the Mahdi Army strongholds of Sadr City and the Shula neighborhood.
In an effort to ease conditions for Sadr City’s 2.5 million residents, the government has allowed trucks carrying maintenance teams, food, oil products and ambulances into the area.
A vehicle ban remains in effect as part of a curfew imposed on Baghdad after fighting broke out between government forces and Shiite militants March 25. The curfew has been lifted in the rest of Baghdad.
Green Zone hit again
Several rockets or mortar rounds exploded inside the U.S.-controlled Green Zone on Sunday and adding that four civilians were injured outside the area by rounds that fell short, police said. The U.S. military confirmed the shelling but provided no details.
The two top American officials in Iraq — Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker — are to brief Congress on Tuesday on the situation in Iraq and prospects for further reductions in the U.S. troop presence.
Britain this month suspended plans to remove 1,500 soldiers from its 4,000-member force in southern Iraq after fighting broke out in Basra between Iraqi troops and Shiite militia and spread quickly to Baghdad and other cities.
Also Sunday, hundreds of mourners gathered in the capital’s Karradah district for the funeral of Father Youssef Adel, an Assyrian Orthodox priest slain the day before at his home.
One of the mourners, Midhat Faez, said the assassination was aimed at provoking conflict between Muslims and the tiny Christian community.
“As Christians, we are terrified and our numbers are gradually diminishing,” Faez said.
© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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