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Shiite Turns against U.S.

Posted April. 05, 2004 22:16,   


The situation in Iraq worsened as the U.S.-led coalition forces encountered a series of confrontations with the once-cooperative Shiite Muslims who account for 60 percent of Iraq’s population.

On April 4, eight U.S. troops, ten coalition soldiers, and over 50 Iraqis were killed as the coalition troops and anti-American Shiite protesters clashed. More than 40 of the coalition troops and 300 Iraqis were injured.

The demonstration was ignited by Shiite residents protesting against the closure of Moqtada al-Sadr’s weekly newspaper and the arrest of an aide to al-Sadr by U.S. officials, which sparked a battle between Shiite militiamen and the U.S. troops.

The Washington Post wrote that this sudden turn of event constituted the most serious challenge yet to the U.S.-led occupation.

On April 5, the coalition troops sealed off the highway running between Baghdad and Jordan indefinitely for military purposes against the stronghold of the resistance forces.

The fiercest battle took place Sunday, April 4, in the streets of Sadr City near Baghdad, between Shiite militiamen, devout supporters of al-Sadr, and the U.S. troops, which left seven Americans dead and 24 of them injured. A doctor at one local hospital reports that at least 28 Iraqis were killed in the fighting.

This confrontation follows yet another fight by three hours, which broke out in the holy city of Najaf, where Spanish-led forces fired on thousands of Shiite protesters killing over 20 Iraqis and injured more than 200.

Shiite militia also took over three police offices and other government offices in major cities of Iraq including Baghdad on April 4, as well as setting fire on two U.S. Army vehicles. The following day, they went on to take over the governor’s office in the southern city of Basra under British occupation.

Four other Iraqis died and eight were injured when Shiite militiamen engaged in a battle with the British forces in Amarah on April 4. On the same day, the protesters clashed with the coalition forces in the southern city of Nasiriyah where three Portuguese soldiers were injured.

Seung-Jin Kim sarafina@donga.com