US soldier, seven Iraqis killed as clashes resume in Najaf

Published August 15th, 2004 - 02:00 GMT

A U.S. soldier was killed early Sunday when an improvised bomb went off in northern Baghdad, the American Army said. The blast exploded about 1:30 a.m., the military said in a statement.  

 

Elsewhere, American armored vehicles and tanks rolled back into the streets of Najaf and occupation soldiers traded fire with Shiite fighters in a vast cemetery Sunday in a resumption of clashes after the collapse of negotiations aimed at ending the standoff in this holy city.  

 

An explosion, believed to be from a tank round, landed near the outer wall of the compound housing the revered Imam Ali Shrine, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's informal headquarters and the holiest Shiite site, said Ahmed al-Shaibany, an aide to al-Sadr. "The shrine was not hit," al-Shaibany said, according to The AP.  

 

In the morning, American tanks moved toward the center of town and U.S. military vehicles were seen patrolling the city, which had been quiet since Friday.  

 

Before the renewed clashes Sunday, al Sadr's Mahdi Army members were seen patrolling the streets of Najaf's Old City. Police officials warned journalists to leave the city, saying they had intelligence a car bomb might be sent to target them.  

 

As the fresh clashes started, al Sadr's spokesman Ahmed al-Shaibani said his chief wanted to resume talks with the Iraqi authorities. "Moqtada Sadr asked Muwaffaq al-Robaie to return to Najaf to restart talks," he said, according to the AFP.  

 

The 31-year old cleric has insisted the US occupation forces withdraw and responsibility for Najaf be handed over to the Shiite religious leadership.  

 

In a separate incident in Rumaythah, al-Sadr followers fought with police in a battle that killed two people, including one policeman, said Dr. Mohammed al-Kharasani, a hospital official.  

 

On Sunday afternoon, U.S. jet fighters bombed the city of Fallujah, witnesses said. Five people were killed, a doctor said. (albawaba.com)

© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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