May 15, 2008 / 9:01 AM / in 10 years

Seven die in clashes in Baghdad's Sadr City

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Clashes between Shi‘ite militiamen and security forces in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum killed seven people and wounded 19 overnight, Iraqi police and hospitals said on Thursday.

The dead were all men and the wounded included three women and three children, they said.

The U.S. military, which has been engaged in nearly two months of urban warfare with militants in Sadr City and other strongholds of Shi‘ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, said it knew of two deaths in fighting overnight.

“We killed two thugs,” Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, said. “Baghdad is relatively quiet.”

U.S. officials say clashes have eased since Saturday, when Sadr’s opposition movement in parliament reached an agreement with the ruling Shi‘ite alliance to end the violence.

But sporadic battles have continued and it is unclear how much control the anti-American Sadr has over some of the tens of thousands of gunmen in Iraq who profess allegiance to him.

The U.S. military says the violence is being carried out by rogue elements of Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia, which it says are armed, trained and funded by Iran. Tehran denies the charges.

Fighting initially flared in late March when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on Shi‘ite militias in the southern city of Basra, triggering fierce resistance from Mehdi Army fighters.

Reporting by Aseel Kami; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Giles Elgood

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