Tuesday, March 25, 2008

War On


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Moqtada al-Sadr's militiamen battled troops in four Iraqi cities on Tuesday, including the capital, as the hardline Shiite cleric threatened a countrywide campaign of civil revolt.

Heavy clashes broke out between Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters in the southern oil city of Basra, killing at least seven people and wounding 48, and in Kut and Hilla, both south of Baghdad, officials said.

As evening fell, Mahdi Army fighters fought with Iraqi and US forces in their Sadr City bastion in eastern Baghdad for the first time since last October, a security official and witnesses told AFP.

Troops had surrounded the sprawling impoverished neighbourhood of two million people and armed Shiite fighters were roaming the streets, a witness said.