Breaking News: Gunfight in Karbala
For twelve hours from Thursday night into Friday early morning, US military police engaged in a gunfight with Shiite militiamen guarding the home of Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hasani (Mahmoud al-Hassani) in Karbala, near the shrine of Abbas. The MPs are said to have come into Karbala to enforce a curfew. The US army maintains that they were ambushed with sniper fire from atop al-Hasani’s compound. The militiamen used rocket propelled grenades and machine guns. The fighting left 3 MPs dead, 7 wounded, and some Iraqi police are down as well. Townspeople reported that several of al-Hasani’s guards were dead, as well. A US military spokesman said that al-Hasani’s forces had taken part in the fighting last Monday in Karbala between those loyal to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the Army of the Mahdi of Muqtada al-Sadr. The spokesman said he did not believe al-Hasani fought on the side of the Sadrists.
Other reports said that al-Hasani came this summer to Karbala from Baghdad. He is not a major or well-known figure. But he has been in trouble recently with Polish troops in Karbala. The Spanish news service EFE reported on September 10:
“A ellos se suman informaciones de prensa aparecidas hoy según las cuales soldados polacos mataron a un iraquí e hirieron a tres al abrir fuego el lunes contra una manifestación en la ciudad santa chiíta de Kerbala, al suroeste de Bagdad.
Según el diario Al-Nahda, cuya información no ha sido confirmada, los manifestantes protestaban por una redada realizada por las fuerzas polacas – bajo cuyo mando se encuentran las tropas españolas destacadas en la vecina Diwaniya- en el domicilio de un líder religioso local, el ayatola Mahmud Al-Hasani. ( EFE)”
So this is someone whose house has been searched in the past, probably for weapons, with the search causing demonstrations in Karbala. [I have now concluded he is a Sadrist].