The Fighting in Iraq
Reuters is reporting that guerrillas detonated a car bomb early on Tuesday, killing 2 persons and wounding 3 others. They were trying to assassinate Education Minister Sami al-Mudhaffar, but he escaped unscathed.
Knight Ridder’s Hannah Allam was trapped in the Imam Ali Shrine on Monday when fighting suddenly intensified, and she filed via her satellite phone. She reports numerous strikes against the Mahdi Army in the sacred cemetery of the Valley of Peace, and elsewhere in the city. The US military “squeeze” of the militia continued, with what look like increasing success (from a purely military point of view). She writes:
‘At nightfall, U.S. attacks increased. The buzz of an AC130 gunship could be heard. Nine or 10 times by midnight, aircraft could be heard circling overhead, then a whistling sound and the explosion of a bomb. Shrapnel flew into the shrine’s courtyard.
Members of the Madhi’s Army — as al-Sadr’s militia is known — kept their spirits up with chants of “We’re with you, Muqtada. We’ll die for you, Muqtada.” They staged an impromptu rally at midnight, marching through the courtyard.
Wounded militia members were brought in throughout the evening to a makeshift trauma center in the shrine. A little girl hit by shrapnel was carried in.
Outside the shrine, militiamen and U.S. troops continued their mutual hunt for the enemy throughout the day. ‘
Meanwhile, the violence in Najaf provoked a demonstrationof about 200 persons in Multan, Pakistan (where the Shiites have some demographic weight. The Malaysian government condemned the fighting in Najaf.
Al-Hayat reports that PM Iyad Allawi has forbidden Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan and Interior Minister Falah al-Naquib from speaking publicly about the Sadr movement.