Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clashes continue in southern Iraq


Heavy fighting has continued for a third day between Shia militias and the Iraqi security forces in southern Iraq.

There are reports of extensive exchanges of fire between the Iraqi army and militiamen in Basra and in the town of Hilla, just south of Baghdad.

More than 70 people have died and hundreds have been injured in days of violence sparked by an Iraqi crackdown on Shia militias in Basra.

There have also been violent clashes in Kut and the capital, Baghdad.

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki gave Shia militants in Basra 72 hours to lay down their arms or face "severe penalties".

The leader of the Mehdi Army, Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, has spoken of the possibility of negotiations to end the violence.......

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