American and Iraqi government forces clashed with Shiite militiamen in Baghdad tonight in the most serious confrontation in months, and Iraqi officials said the fighting left at least 17 Iraqis dead, including an 80-year-old imam.
The fighting erupted at a very combustible moment in Iraq, with sectarian tensions rising, leadership problems deepening, and dozens of mutilated bodies continuing to surface on Iraqi streets today.
Another concern is that the clash could open an old wound, because the militiamen who were killed worked for Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who has already led several bloody rebellions against American forces.
Security in Baghdad seems to be deteriorating by the hour, and it is increasingly unclear who is in control. Earlier today, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported that American forces raided a secret prison and arrested several Iraqi policeman.
American officials have been more overt in the past week than ever in blaming Shiite militias, in particular Mr. Sadr's Mahdi Army, for a wave of sectarian bloodshed that seems to have no end. This morning, authorities in Baghdad discovered the corpses of 10 more men, all bound, blindfolded and shot.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
by Atrios at 22:18