British Clash with Mahdi Army in Amara
al-Hayat: 4 American troops were killed Saturday in separate incidents. In Amara, British troops clashed with the Army of the Mahdi, loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, killing several militiamen and taking 10 prisoner. About 6 British soldiers were wounded in the over 7-hour gun battle. A British officers said that three Iraqi troops and policemen were also wounded in the shoot-out. He said that the British military had withdrawn from some quarters of the city, and that discussions are continuing to restore security. (This report reveals that the Shiite uprising of early April has still not been entirely quelled, and that the Coalition is not actually in control of all the southern Shiite cities).
A spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr, Shaikh Qais al-Khaz`ali, announced another mediation attempt between the Coalition and Muqtada aimed at reaching a peaceful resolution of the current stand-off at Najaf. He explained, “The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim] and the Organization of Islamic Action [headed by Taqi Mudarrisi] are both attempting to act as intermediaries. Likewise, the Najaf police chief, Ali al-Yasiri, and the leaders of the major clans in the city are also involved in this attempt to prevent a bloodbath in this holy site.
Earlier plans by some on the Interim Governing Council to organize tribal levies to take Najaf from Muqtada and his Mahdi Army have been shelved by the Americans as too risky.