Nine Iraqis killed in Najaf, Karbala as some detainees released from Abu Ghraib prison
Blasts rocked the holy city of Najaf and residents reported intermittent gunfire in Karbala on Friday as U.S. forces again clashed with fighter loyal to Muqtada al Sader.
Fighting broke out on a road leading from Najaf to the nearby city of Kufa, where al-Sadr delivered a sermon at Friday prayers. At least one American tank was stationed on the road.
Later, two U.S. tanks moved into the city's cemetery and fired on al Sader men's positions.
Fighting occurred near Imam Ali shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shia.
Gunfire was heard in parts of Karbala, where American troops and the al Sader's al-Mahdi Army, have fought intense battles this week. Reports said at least nine Iraqis were killed in the clashes.
Northeast of Baghdad, a bomb exploded in front of the house of a tribal chief, killing him and one of his daughters. The motive for the killing in Muqdadiyah of Roukan Mughir, head of the Miahi tribe, was unclear. However, residents said he had been cooperating with occupation forces.
Another daughter and a son of the chief were injured in the blast, hospital officials said.
Meanwhile, the US occupation administartion started the release of more than 300 Iraqi detainees from Abu Ghraib prison Friday, a days after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to the country.
One bus carrying 17 prisoners left the jail and drove to an American military base in west Baghdad, where tribal leaders awaited them.
Some 315 were scheduled for release on Friday, and the next release was planned for May 21.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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