Updated at 12:10 a.m. EDT, Mar. 31, 2008
After almost a week of heavy fighting throughout the southern provinces and Baghdad, clashes between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi security forces may be drawing to and end. Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has offered a truce as he called on the government to stop their raids. In the latest reports, 144 Iraqis were killed and another 59 were wounded. No Coalition deaths were reported.
The spiritual leader of the Mahdi Army, Moqtada al-Sadr, has offered a truce to Iraqi security forces battling his followers in a number of southern provinces and in Shi’ite neighborhoods of Baghdad. He is ordering his militia to stand down, but whether the truce holds is contingent on the government ending their raids. The clashes began when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki imposed a security crackdown on Basra. Analysts believe the crackdown was an attempt to diminish the Sadrists power base before October elections. The Mahdi Army had been observing a unilateral cease-fire when al-Maliki targeted them. The Iraqi government welcomed the offer, but Sadr’s followers doubted the government would comply.
A new mass grave was found near Muqdadiyah. This one contained 14 bodies bearing torture evidence. Some may have been in the grave as long as six months.
In Baghdad, clashes involving the Mahdi Army left six wounded in the Ur neighborhood. Three policemen were wounded during an attack on their New Baghdad police station. A mortar attack in Karada killed six people and wounded 21 others. Mortar shelling in the Green Zone and Doura left no casualties. Clashes took place in Shula. Two dumped bodies were found yesterday, and five more were found today. A U.S. air attack left 25 dead after gunmen attacked a U.S. patrol. Also, a roadside bomb in Adhamiya killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded two others.
In Mosul, three policemen were killed and four others were wounded during an ambush. Police colonel and a policeman were killed during clashes with gunmen. A suicide bomber blew up a school; one civilian was injured. Two gunmen were killed and a third was wounded after a U.S. helicopter attack. A decapitated body was found. Also, the brother of a former minister was kidnapped.
Near Baiji in Saniya, a car bomb killed seven people and wounded eight. Three of the dead were Awakening Council (Sahwa) members.
Gunmen killed five policemen and wounded two civilians in Dhuluiya.
In Saidiya, the head of the Diyala provincial council escaped an assassination attempt that left two bodyguards dead.
Three Sahwa members were wounded during a roadside bombing in Hawija.
In Najaf, a roadside bomb killed an Iraqi army officer and two soldiers.
A roadside bomb in Kirkuk left three wounded.
A raid near Muqdadiyah in al-Jizani left one gunman dead and four wounded.
An air strike killed three people in Basra.
One civilian was killed and another was injured during a U.S. airstrike in Wajihiyah.
A civilian was killed in the crossfire between gunmen and Iraqi forces in Kanaan.
In Hilla, 101 suspects were detained.
Four Mahdi Army fighters were killed and 30 more detained in al-Hamza.
U.S. forces killed 55 gunmen across central and southern Iraq.
A Sahwa council was formed to protect the highways around Tuz Khormato.
A 60-member police force was sacked in Nasariya for not engaging the Mahdi Army.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis
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