One Killed in violent clash between Shiite factions in Karbala as three US troops die
Rival Shiite Muslim factions clashed overnight in the holy city of Karbala, leaving one person killed and 24 injured, witnesses said Tuesday. Iraqi police surrounded the offices of one of the faction leaders.
One of the wounded was in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the chest and was taken to a hospital in Baghdad, 110 kilometers away, said Saleh al-Hasnawi, assistant director of the Karbala hospital.
Another person died of his wounds and 23 people were being treated, the doctor added.
The Karbala clash appeared to be part of a power struggle in the majority Shiite community between forces of Muqtada al-Sadr, a strong opponent of the U.S. military occupation, and followers of religious leaders who have taken a more moderate stand toward the Americans.
Sadr, who is from a famous family of ayatollahs, has openly defied the hierarchy of the Shia religious hierarchy, the Hawza, by condemning all contact with US forces.
As one of the most outspoken voices of Shia protest against the US occupation, he has recently said he was determined to defend the holy sites from the Americans, branding it the responsibility of all Muslims in Iraq.
Tuesday's incident started about 10 p.m. when al-Sadr's followers tried to take over the shrine of Imam al-Hussein, one of the principal religious sites in the city.
Witnesses said al-Sadr's forces and those loyal to Grand Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, used small arms and rocket-propelled grenades during fighting that ended after sunrise. Al-Sadr's forces withdrew to another mosque where they were surrounded by police, witnesses said.
Residents said that up to 10 people were killed and more than a dozen wounded.
In Baghdad, two U.S. troops were killed and one was injured when their vehicle was involved in a traffic accident with a civilian car, the U.S. military said, according to The AP.
The accident took place at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Kazimiyah district in northwest Baghdad.
Elsewhere, one U.S. soldier was found dead, floating in the Euphrates river in the northwestern Iraqi town of Haditha, according to occupation forces Tuesday.
According to a statement, a 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldier was found dead in the Euphrates river, in Haditha, 250 kilometers northwest of the capital Baghdad.
"The soldier was found floating in the river approximately 20 minutes after being reported missing" on Monday evening, the statement said.
It added doctors tried to revive the soldier at the scene. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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