Militiamen loyal to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr clashed with American forces in northern Baghdad on Sunday, an Interior Ministry official said, the latest in a series of indications that the militia might be emerging from two months of self-imposed dormancy.
On the orders of Mr. Sadr, the militia, known as the Mahdi Army, has remained largely underground since the intensified security plan for Baghdad took effect in mid-February. But a steady increase in the number of corpses recovered from the streets in recent weeks, and sporadic clashes between Mahdi fighters and government forces, have suggested a possible resurgence of the militia.
Its return could significantly complicate the American-led effort to tame violence in the capital because it would split the attention of American and Iraqi forces, already struggling to subdue the Sunni Arab insurgency and interrupt its campaign of vehicle bombings against Shiite targets. The circumstances of the latest fighting remained unclear late Sunday.
The above is from Kirk Semple's "U.S. Clashes With Militia in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times and the song to play while reading the article is Ashford & Simpson's "Ain't Nothing But A Maybe." And you can file this from KUNA under the same song:
A source at the Iraqi police told KUNA US forces exchanged fire shots with the guards of Al-Sadr's office. He said the guards resisted the American troops.American army vehicles surrounded the office and the forces started shooting at it then stormed it and arrested the people inside, said the source.
Locals at Khadmiya and eyewitnesses said the exchange of fire lasted for some an hour.
Martha notes Dana Hedgpath's "U.S. Rebuilding in Iraq Is Missing Key Goals, Report Finds" (Washington Post) which is about the failure in reconstruction:
The U.S. project to rebuild Iraq remains far short of its targets, leaving the country plagued by power outages, inadequate oil production and shortages of clean water and health care, according to a report to be issued today by a U.S. government oversight agency.
The 232-page quarterly review by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction presents a sobering picture of the challenges of reconstruction in a war zone.
It also says the Army has asked Parsons Corp., one of the largest contractors in Iraq, to explain why it should not be barred from pursuing government contracts for up to three years.
As noted last night, the 100 mark for US service members who have died in Iraq for the month of April was reached Sunday. This is from Dean Yates (Reuters):
The toll could increase the pressure on U.S. President George W. Bush, who is fighting a plan by Democrats to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
Bush has vowed to veto a war spending bill from Democrats that requires combat troops to begin withdrawing by Oct 1. The Democrat-controlled Congress plans to send the bill to Bush on Tuesday.
The U.S. military said three soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad on Sunday. A Marine was killed in western Anbar province on Sunday.
Another soldier was killed by small arms fire in eastern Baghdad on Saturday, the military said.
ICCC is back up, places the toll at 103 for the month of April (3350 since the start of the illegal war) and that's the highest toll since December (112).
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