Shiites hold huge march in Baghdad in support of elections as US forces kill Syrian, two Yemenis in firefight
On Monday, US soldiers killed two Yemeni nationals and a Syrian who reportedly "opened fire" on them during a raid on a Baghdad house, Reuters cited police officials as saying.
They said American troops were shot at as they raided the house at around 1:30 am (local time) in search of weapons.
Meanwhile, the suicide truck bombing at a gate to the headquarters compound of the US-led occupation killed 24 people and injured some 120, Iraq's minister of health said Monday.
That casualty count from Sunday's attack is significantly higher than the US toll of "about 20" dead and 63 injured.
Iraqi Health Minister Khudayer Abbas said his figures were based on reports from hospitals and clinics throughout the Baghdad area, which were still submitting reports on Monday.
For its part, the American military said three US civilians and three American soldiers were among the injured.
The blast took place Sunday morning when a suicide driver detonated 1,000 pounds of explosives in a pickup truck at what US soldiers term the "Assassins' Gate" to Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace compound.
Also Monday, tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims marched peacefully in the streets of the Iraqi capital to demand an elected government as scores of armed Iraqi police stood by.
Huge crowds of Iraqi Shiites, estimated at up to 100,000, marched about three miles to the University of al-Mustansariyah, where a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani delivered a speech he said was directed at UN chief Kofi Annan, the US-led occupation authority and its Iraqi allies.
Al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite leader, has rejected a US plan for transferring power through a provisional legislature selected by 18 regional caucuses, insisting on direct elections instead.
"The sons of the Iraqi people demand a political system based on direct elections and a constitution that realizes justice and equality for everyone," al-Sistani's representative, Hashem al-Awad, said. "Anything other than that will prompt people to have their own say."
According to The AP, the crowd responded by chanting, "Yes, yes to elections! No, no to occupation!"
Two American military helicopters hovered low over the demonstrators but otherwise there was no indication of US soldiers. (Albawaba.com)
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