British soldier killed as Sadr vows resistance to intensify
A British soldier on Monday was killed in clashes with Shiite fighters in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Several British troops were also injured when their vehicles came under fire, the British Ministry of Defense said.
"There have been a number of incidents within the British area of operations in and around Basra between insurgents and UK forces throughout the afternoon and early evening," said an MoD spokesman.
"We regret we can confirm that a British soldier has been killed and there have been a number of other casualties, the details of which will not be released until next-of-kin have been informed.
"The incidents resulted in a number of vehicles being damaged as well.
"The situation is being brought under control, and whilst we continue to maintain our non-escalatory posture, we use force where necessary in self-defense."
Two British military vehicles were set on fire after followers of cleric Moqtada al Sadr fired rocket-propelled grenades at their patrol. Three Shiite fighters were reportedly killed during the fighting.
Earlier, Iraq's Interior Ministry imposed a curfew Monday on Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood home to fighters loyal to al-Sadr that has seen fighting in recent days, a ministry spokesman said.
Sabah Kadhim said the curfew was imposed for an unspecified period because of "security reasons." It will run from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.
On Sunday, the Mahdi Army warriors attacked a Baghdad district council building with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire, injuring three U.S. troops, U.S. officials said.
Meanwhile, Sadr himself vowed Monday to fight "until the last drop of my blood has been spilled."
At a news conference Monday, al-Sadr vowed to keep up the battle. "I will continue fighting," al-Sadr told reporters, according to The AP. "I will remain in Najaf city until the last drop of my blood has been spilled."
"These are honest attacks against the occupation," he said. "They ... are coming to resist the occupation, to liberate our country."
"Resistance will continue and increase day by day," he said. "Our demand is for the American occupation to get out of Iraq. We want an independent, democratic, free country."
Much of the fighting in the holy city of Najaf has centered on the cemetery, as U.S. forces often used helicopters to attack the Shiite fighters.
"We cannot conduct negotiations under shelling," al-Sadr said. "The Americans are shelling the most holy place here in Najaf and they want me to negotiate? This is ridiculous." (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)