Iraq: Clashes with Sadr followers continue as Turkey confirms strike
Britain's foreign secretary held talks Thursday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as at least 13 people were reported killed in the ongoing fighting between Shiite militiamen and Iraqi and U.S.-led forces. According to the AP, the British Embassy confirmed that Foreign Secretary David Miliband had arrived on a previously unannounced visit but refused to release any other information due to security concerns.
In the latest clashes, five people died and 28 were wounded early Thursday in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The figures came from a police officer.
Another eight people were killed and two injured during fighting in the capital's Husseiniyah area, another base of Shiite militants.
Thursday's clashes came a day after a top American general urged al-Sadr to rein in his fighters. "We certainly hope that Sadr will choose the road of peace and responsibility," said Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who commands day-to-day operations in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said Thursday that two of its soldiers were killed in an accident in Salahuddin province when their vehicle rolled onto its side. Their deaths raised the American death toll in April to 36, the highest rate of death for troops in Iraq since September, when 65 Americans were killed, according to the Associated Press. Another American soldier died in a single-vehicle accident on a highway in neighboring Kuwait, the military said. A soldier was injured in the crash.
Meanwhile, the Turkish military confirmed Thursday that its warplanes targeted a group of Kurdish gunmen in neighbouring northern Iraq Wednesday. The planes struck a group of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members in the Khakurk area who were attempting to sneak across the border into Turkey, a brief statement on the army's web site said.
The group was "rendered ineffective," it said, according to AFP. The bombardment began at about 1300 GMT and lasted for about 45 minutes, the Firat news agency had reported after the raid Wednesday, quoting PKK sources.
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