Updated at 9:20 p.m. EDT, Mar. 28, 2008
At least 163 Iraqis were killed and 214 were wounded in the latest reports of violence. These figures included updated numbers from the Mahdi Army battles taking place since Tuesday. Fighting appears to be subsiding in Baghdad, but the Mahdi Army has expanded its control in Basra. One American soldier was died after an IED attack south of Baghdad today. Meanwhile U.S. forces were dragged deeper into the fighting across Iraq. British troops have remained uninvolved, even in Basra where they are stationed. Also, the situation for civilians in Basra and Sadr City is becoming desperate as food and water supplies dwindle.
An Iranian cleric has called for peace talks and compromises from both sides of the conflict, but the prime minister says he will battle the followers of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr until the end. The prime minister claims that the crackdown is against criminal gangs in Basra, but the Sadrists say that the crackdown is merely an attempt to marginalize their political group before October elections. Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari says that the government is determined to defeat the Sadrists. Witnesses have reported that other rival gangs in Basra are not being targeted by the crackdown.
In Baghdad, authorities are reporting an official total of 39 dead and 389 wounded since Tuesday in the Sadr City clashes. That increased the casualty figures by nine dead and 89 wounded. Fighting appears to have mostly subsided there, but Iraqi police are saying that U.S. air strikes killed as many as 12 people and wounded 60 others today as well. Yesterday, the city saw large but peaceful demonstrations, as U.S. troops killed 42 gunmen in street fighting. Clashes continue in at least Bayaa and Washash however. Baghdad remains under a weekend curfew.
Seven dumped bodies were discovered across Baghdad. A U.S. air strike killed three people and wounded six in Kadhimiya. A separate air strike in Sadr City left four people dead and three others wounded. According to police, as many as five people were killed in another U.S. helicopter air strike; U.S. forces said it was four gunmen. Rocket attacks on the Green Zone left two dead and four wounded. Mortars injured a woman in Qadisiyah. In Karrada, mortars landed near a suspension bridge and injured three civilians. Three policemen were kidnapped in al-Amin. In al-Alam, a police patrol was stopped, but the men were released after handing over their weapons and vehicle to the gunmen. Also, Vice President al-Hashemi’s offices were struck by a missile; one person was killed and six were wounded, but al-Hashemi wasn’t there.
The figures in Basra are now up to 120 dead, bringing the death tally up by 20 people. The Mahdi Army has expanded their domination of the city, according to witnesses. Meanwhile, al-Maliki is now offering cash to gunmen who stand down and turn over their weapons.
In Diwaniya, the mayor of the Ghmash district was killed during clashes between police and Mahdi militiamen. One of al-Sadr’s offices was set ablaze. Mortars fell on Iraqi army headquarters, but no casualties were reported. Nineteen suspects were captured by police and residents.
Mortar fire killed two people and wounded 23 others in Garma.
In Nasariya, nine people were killed and 27 wounded in separate clashes. The casualty figures since Tuesday add at least another 21 dead and 25 wounded to the tally, which now stands at 30 dead and 52 injured.
Three gunmen were killed and seven captured in Husseiniyah.
Five were killed and two more people were wounded during clashes in al-Qurna between the Bani Malek clan, which is connected to al-Maliki, and gunmen.
Seven people were arrested in Karbala for involvement in murders.
Gunmen killed a woman in Mosul, and left her infant baby unharmed next to her.
Seven people were killed and 15 others were wounded in Mahmudiya during clashes involiving the Mahdi Army.
In Numaniya, an army colonel was killed during clashes.
Six policemen were killed and nine were wounded during clashes in Hamza.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis