10 US Troops Killed
Thousands of Sadrist Demonstrators Come to Najaf
Thousands of followers of young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr converged on Najaf Monday, planning to join rallies against continued US military occupation of Iraq. April 9 is the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to US forces. Although some journalists are writing that al-Sadr called for violent attacks on US troops, the communique he released on Sunday simply says that Iraqi Army troops and Mahdi Army militiamen should not fight one another and should not allow the Americans to manipulate them.
Sadrist passions are running high because of a joint US/Iraqi government campaign against Sadrist militias (the Mahdi Army) in Diwaniya.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Muqtada launched in his communique, “a call to the Mahdi Army and the security apparatuses to stop fighting [in Diwaniya].” He said, “That is enough struggling and fighting, for it merely ensures the success of the plans of our enemy and your enemy. Our Iraq can no longer bear the shedding of this blood. The blood of an Iraqi is a red line [that must not be crossed.]” He added, “Iraqi Army and Police: Do not get drawn in behind the Occupier. For it is an obvious enemy to you.” He said, “The armies of darkness represented by the Occupation forces, and more especially the great evil, America, have begun sowing the seeds of comflict, whether openly or through their agents–who have sold their land and their honor. We behold the turmoil taking place in Diwaniya, which the Occupier planned out to turn brotherhood into struggle and fighting.”
Of the demonstration planned for Najaf, a Sadr spokesman said that participants would fly only the Iraqi flag to underline that it was a purely Iraqi rally. Demonstrators are demanding a US departure from Iraq.
Al-Hayat says that a Sadr spokesman in Diwaniya was announcing that al-Sadr’s announcement had convinced some units of the Mahdi Army to stand down and let Iraqi government troops into their neighborhoods.
10 US GIs were killed in Iraq over the weekend. Police found 17 bodies dumped in Baghdad on Sunday.
On Sunday, Sunni Arab guerrillas deployed a massive car bomb in Mahmudiya, a town south of Baghdad, killing 17 and wounding 24. The blast, which targeted industrial workshops, leveled a three-story building.
Reuters reports other political violence in Iraq on Sunday, including these incidents:
“BAGHDAD – Seven people were killed and 21 wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded near an intersection in Ilaam district in southern Baghdad, police said.
BAGDHAD – A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed one policeman and wounded seven in the Adhamiya district in northern Baghdad, police said.
HILLA – A roadside bomb targeting a police Scorpion Brigade patrol wounded three policemen in the Shi’ite city of Hilla . . .
The Vatican probably can’t say “I told you so,” given that pride is a sin. But this Easter address by the Pope on Iraq is pretty close. “Nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees,” the Pope said.