Updated at 11:45 p.m. EDT, Mar. 25, 2008
The fragile ceasefire unilaterally imposed by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on his followers may be unraveling. Clashes between Iraqi security and al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army are taking place in Basra and other cities, even as al-Sadr asks for a peaceful but nationwide sit-in to protest the unfair targeting of his followers. Overall, at least 54 Iraqis were killed and 129 more were wounded across Iraq. One American soldier was killed during a hostile fire attack this afternoon in Baghdad. Also, curfews have been imposed on Karbala, Wassit, Babel, Qadisiyah, Thi Qar, and in Basra provinces.
At least 31 people were killed and 88 more were injured during clashes in the southern city of Basra, where followers of al-Sadr battled against Iraqi security forces, backed by Coaliton air power. Although al-Sadr imposed a unilateral ceasefire on his Mahdi Army, he has said that they are allowed to defend themselves from threats. Should the fragile truce unravel, it could indicate an escalation of violence throughout Iraq. Also, the U.S. military said that five suspects were killed and 10 injured after being spotted by Coalition forces while planting a roadside bomb. Coalition forces have mostly left the city, so it is unknown which force was involved.
As many as 10 policemen were injured during clashes with the Mahdi Army in Aziziya.
In Baghdad, battles between the Mahdi Army and the rival Shi’ite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council have frightened residents of Shi’ite neighborhoods, leading them to stay home and close shops and schools; however, an al-Sadr spokesman denied that clashes were taking place. No casualties were reported after gunmen fired rockets during a peaceful sit-in by al-Sadr followers in Abu Dsheer. Also, a Dawa Party office was set ablaze in Sadr City. Also, in Sadr City, gunmen attacked a U.S. patrol; the patrol returned fire and injured five power plant workers.
In other developments, five bodies were discovered across Baghdad. Two bombs left one dead and eight wounded in Bab al-Sheikh. Meanwhile, rocket fire again targeted the Green Zone; three people were injured. Six policemen were kidnapped in the Maamil neighborhood; nearby, gunmen also attacked a police commando checkpoint, but no casualties were reported. Two policemen were injured by falling mortar shells in al-Qanat. Two Iraqi soldiers were injured during an attack on a checkpoint near al-Dabash Bridge. Also, two Iraqi soldiers were wounded during operations that netted 16 suspects.
In Mosul, six dumped bodies were recovered. A mosque employee was gunned down during a drive-by shooting. The director of the forensic department was killed during an armed attack. Also, gunmen kidnapped the son of an official from a journalist’s union.
Haditha police killed a man who lobbed a grenade at them.
A roadside bomb killed two children and wounded two other civilians in Khatoon.
An Awakening Council member was killed northeast of the capital.
Fifteen suspects were arrested in Karbala.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis