At least 19 dead as clashes continue around Baghdad
Another 19 people died in fighting between Shiite militiamen and security forces in Baghdad, officials said on Wednesday, as the death toll from weeks of street battles passed 360.
The US military said troops had killed 15 people in overnight clashes in areas of east Baghdad controlled by Mahdi Army militiamen loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. U.S. forces used ground troops and air strikes during the clashes which started in the late afternoon, a US military statement said, according to AFP.
In one incident, soldiers were attacked with a roadside bomb and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) while on patrol in east Baghdad around 9:45 pm (1845 GMT), the statement said. Six militiamen died in the ensuing gunbattle. In a separate incident at about the same time, US troops were attacked with RPGs, also in east Baghdad, the statement said.
Iraqi officials, said that the fighting which has been focused in Sadr City has spread to the adjoining district of Hussainiyah. An interior ministry official said at least four people died there on Tuesday. The defence ministry put the toll in the fighting at seven dead, including two women, and 20 injured, among them women and children.
The latest deaths have pushed the toll from fighting in east Baghdad since late March to more than 360, according to AFP tally. At least 315 people have been killed in Sadr City alone in the past month, according to an Interior Ministry official. The official said no breakdown was available for the number of militiamen, civilians and Iraqi security forces.
Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mosul, two people were killed and nine wounded on Wednesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a money exchange outlet in an attack that was followed minutes later by a car bomb blast in the street outside, police said.
Meanwhile the death toll from an attack by a female suicide bomber who blew herself up near a police station in Diyala province on Tuesday has risen to 18, the US military said.