At least two Iraqis killed in clashes with British troops in Basra
Hundreds of Shi'ite fighters loyal to Iraqi leader Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of the southern city of Basra on Saturday and clashed with British occupation troops, witnesses said. Two Iraqis were killed in the clashes and one was captured.
Locals said the Shiite fighters, armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, took over several areas of the city and were manning checkpoints on the streets. Later, they clashed with the British troops.
According to Reuters, a British military spokesman said he was aware of "disturbances" in the city and added that large crowds, including some with arms, were gathering in the city center near the headquarters of the South Oil Company.
The spokesman also confirmed reports of clashes between occupation forces and members of al Sadr's Mehdi Army in the city of Amara, some 180 kilometers north of Basra.
He said one soldier was lightly injured in the clash.
On Friday, a Shi'ite cleric in Basra told worshippers that anyone who captures a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.
Sheikh Abdul-Sattar al Bahadli told a crowd of some 3,000 they should launch a Juhad against UK troops.
Al Bahadli is a senior aide to al Sadr.
Taking Friday prayers, he offered money to anyone who kills members of the Iraq Governing Council set up by the US.
He brandished what he said were photographs of three Iraqi women being raped at British-run prisons.
Al Bahadli said the British troops had failed to honor a pledge not to patrol in Basra and to stop harassing pro-Sadr elements. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)