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News, March 2008

 

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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

 
18 Iraqis Killed, 100 Injured, in Clashes Between Mahdi Militiamen and Iraqi Forces, Sadrists Declare Civil Disobedience, US Forces Surround Sadr City 

Sadrist bloc suspends participation in parliament meetings
 
Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Wednesday , 26 /03 /2008  Time 12:02:24
 
Baghdad, Mar 25, (VOI)-

The leader of the Sadrist bloc in the Iraqi parliament announced on Tuesday that his bloc will stop attending the legislative meetings until the military operation against its elements is over.

"The Sadrist bloc decided to suspend its participation in the parliament's sessions until the end of operations targeting Sadrists," Nassar al-Rubaei told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).

Sadrist officials called on Monday for an open-ended civil disobedience, which has already begun in the western Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shurta, al-Bayya, al-Amil, and al-Risala.

Nassar al-Rubaei had said earlier that Sadrists expanded the civil disobedience they started to include all provinces.

He called on citizens to support this disobedience, demanding that the government implement the Sadrists' demands.

Basra has been a hotbed of fierce armed confrontations since yesterday between security forces and armed groups, during which 15 civilians were killed and 100 others were wounded.

For his part, lawmaker Ahmad al-Masoudi from the Sadrist bloc told the VOI that "the bloc decided not to attend today's session as a sign of protest against targeting civilians and arresting campaigns against Sadrists throughout Iraq."
A spokesman for the Sadrists in al-Karkh, Mazen al-Saadi, had told VOI on Monday that sit-ins began in some areas in Karkh and would move to other areas in Baghdad's al-Rasafa as well as other provinces if the demands to release the detained Sadrists and have an official apology from the government on these arrests and raids were not met.

"There would be other options if the government failed to respond to these demands," said Saadi, not determining the nature of these "options."
A statement issued by Sadr's office in Rasafa on Sunday had urged residents to start an open-ended civil disobedience in southern and southwestern Baghdad, calling on the Iraqi government to release detained Sadrists.
 
SH

U.S. forces surround Sadr city
 
Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Wednesday , 26 /03 /2008  Time 12:02:24
 
Baghdad, March 25, (VOI)-

U.S. forces surrounded Sadr city, eastern Baghdad, while the Baghdad Operations Command imposed a curfew on it as of this afternoon until Wednesday morning, the official spokesman for the Baghdad's operations said on Tuesday.

"The curfew on vehicle and pedestrian traffic started at 6 pm on Tuesday until 6 am on Wednesday," Major General Qassem Atta, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).

Atta did not mention any further details.
Eyewitnesses said that U.S. forces surrounded Sadr city on Tuesday's afternoon, closed all city's inlets, and replaced Iraqi forces inside the city.
Eyewitnesses also said that sounds of discontinuous gunfire and explosions are heard at different neighborhoods of the city.

Power went off at some parts of Sadr city, while people there rushed to buy foodstuff preparing for security deterioration.
One of the eyewitnesses told VOI "U.S. forces allowed four firefighting trucks and three ambulances to enter the city."

He added "People are afraid that U.S. forces may conduct wide-scale attacks and raid operations in the city."

VOI contacted Abdul Latef Ryan, media counselor of Multi national forces (MNF) in Iraq, to comment on this issue, but he said that MNF will issue a release in this regard.

MH/SH

Sadrists expand civil disobedience to all provinces  
Baghdad - Voices of Iraq
Wednesday , 26 /03 /2008  Time 12:02:24  
Baghdad, Mar 25, (VOI) -

Sadrists expanded the civil disobedience they started to include all provinces, the spokesman for the Sadrist bloc said on Tuesday.

"The Sadrist bloc announced the expansion of the civil disobedience to include all provinces in Iraq," Nassar al-Rubaei said at a press conference held in Baghdad.
He called on citizens to support this disobedience, demanding that the government implement the Sadrists' demands.

Sadrist officials called on Monday for an open-ended civil disobedience, which has already begun in the western Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shurta, al-Bayya, al-Amil, and al-Risala.
The VOI correspondent said life came to a standstill in those neighborhoods, where stores closed and traffic stopped after barricades believed to belong to the Sadrists were erected.
A spokesman for the Sadrists in al-Karkh, Mazen al-Saadi, had told VOI on Monday that sit-ins began in some areas in Karkh and would move to other areas in Baghdad's al-Rasafa as well as other provinces if the demands to release the detained Sadrists and have an official apology from the government on these arrests and raids were not met.

"There would be other options if the government failed to respond to these demands," said Saadi, not determining the nature of these "options."
Eyewitnesses said there was almost no traffic in some areas in southwestern Baghdad in response to calls by the Sadrist office in Baghdad's al-Karkh to start civil disobedience in protest of the detentions and raids targeting Sadrists.

"Stores closed down, schooling stopped, and service departments are off in and around al-Jihad neighborhood," a local resident of al-Jihad told VOI.
Another local resident of the Abu Dshir neighborhood, southern Baghdad, told VOI that civilian vehicles were roaming the area and calling on the residents via microphones to start a civil disobedience until "the government responds to the demands forwarded by Sadr's office in Baghdad's al-Rasafa.

"Sunni Muslims took part in the protest in solidarity with the Sadrists, whose neighborhoods are targets for detentions and raids," a local resident of al-Aamil neighborhood said.
A statement issued by Sadr's office in Rasafa on Sunday had urged residents to start an open-ended civil disobedience in southern and southwestern Baghdad, calling on the Iraqi government to release detained Sadrists.

SH/SR

18 people killed, 100 wounded in Basra as clashes continue
 
Basra - Voices of Iraq
Wednesday , 26 /03 /2008  Time 12:02:24
 
Basra, Mar 25, (VOI)

Medical sources in Basra city said on Tuesday that the hospitals there received more than 18 corpses, three of them were for police elements, since a wide-range security plan was imposed in the city yesterday.

The city's hospitals also received more than 100 cases of wounded civilians.
"Since Monday at midnight until Tuesday afternoon, Basra province's hospitals received more than 15 civilian bodies, while 100 other civilians were admitted for treatment of their wounds," a source from Basra health management told Aswat al-Iraq Voices of Iraq (VOI) on condition of anonymity.

A few hours after the implementation of the Iraqi government's security plan in Basra, Cavalries' Attack, on Monday evening, fierce clashes erupted in almost all areas of the city and its suburbs after midnight, between security forces and gunmen, causing casualties and injuries, according to eyewitnesses.
Life came to a halt in the city, and people remained at home to avoid the clashes taking place.

Another health source in Basra told VOI on condition of anonymity "Sadr hospital received on Tuesday three policemen's corpses."
The source did not reveal further details in this regard.
On Monday evening, Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki announced the federal government's determination to restore security and stability, and to impose law in Basra, which is subjected to pressures that aim at disturbing its security and stability.

A release issued by the National Defense Center imposed a curfew on the city until further announcement.
In al-Ma'qal area (10 km north of Basra), eyewitnesses told VOI, "Heavy clashes are still taking place, since yesterday night, between security forces and gunmen, in the neighborhoods of Khamsa-Meal, al-Jam'iyat, al-Qibla, and al-Gzeza."
"Two gunmen were killed in al-Gzeza neighborhood, and their bodies are still lying in the main street there," an eyewitness explained.

He added "three people that work for the al-Gzeza gasoline station were wounded."
In the two neighborhoods of al-Jomhoriya and al-Alia (in close proximity to each other in the center of Basra), eyewitnesses told VOI that heavy clashes have been taking place since Monday at midnight, between Iraqi army troops and armed men.
"Various weapons have been used in the clashes. Iraqi security forces are using tanks and artilleries, while gunmen are using mortars and RPG7 missiles," an eyewitness said.

One of the eyewitnesses asserted that an artillery' shell hit a residential house, but without knowing the casualties.
Another eyewitness said that forces coming from al-Muthanna province were deployed in this area, and that two of their elements were wounded by gunmen's fire.

In al-Tmaima neighborhood (city center), considered the gunmen's stronghold in Basra, eyewitnesses said to VOI that a big force, supported by jet fighters and helicopters, surrounded the area, and started an operation to control the neighborhood after heavy clashes.
"I saw many ambulances transferring wounded people to hospitals," an eyewitness explained.

Another eyewitness said that gunmen currently control al-Kuwait Street, and are using tall buildings there as surveillance points.    
In al-Jam'iyat neighborhood (8 km west of Basra), an eyewitness said that heavy clashes have been taking place since Monday night, using various kinds of weapons.

"I heard the sounds of jet fighters bombarding some targets," the eyewitness said.
He added "the streets are entirely empty, state-owned offices are closed, and people remained in their homes."
In al-Qibla neighborhood (8 km west of Basra), an eyewitness told VOI that heavy clashes took place between security forces and gunmen.
"Gunmen are forcibly battling security forces, and they planted main roads with explosive devices," an eyewitness said.   

He added "gunmen forced tanks and Hummer vehicles to withdraw from the main street, and they devastated some of them, setting them on fire."
The eyewitness referred that a child was wounded in a random gun-shooting. "His wounds are very serious, and he may die as we have no ability to transfer him to a hospital."

In al-Garma area (15 km north of Basra city), VOI's reporter witnessed heavy clashes between gunmen and guards of Basra gate, using light weapons and RPG7 missiles.
Gunmen ordered VOI's reporter to return, and he obeyed their order.
Basra, capital city of Basra province, is 590 km south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
MH/SR

 


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