Dozens of Iraqi police detained in operation

Iraqi soldiers detained dozens of policemen and closed down a hospital suspected of treating Sadr men in a Baghdad stronghold of cleric Moqtada al -Sadr's Mehdi Army, Iraqi security officials said on Tuesday.

Dozens of Iraqi police detained in operation
Iraqi and U.S. security forces have been battling Mehdi Army fighters in Baghdad since late March.

The soldiers detained 42 policemen suspected of collaborating with "outlaws", an official in the office of Baghdad security spokesman Major-General Qassim Moussawi said.

The soldiers also raided the Mohammed-Bakr Hakim hospital, arresting 35 workers, including orderlies and cleaners, and forced its closure, said hospital head Dr. Yassin al-Rikabi.

Reuters Television footage showed empty corridors and beds in the hospital, which workers said was suspected of treating wounded Mehdi Army fighters.

Patients relocated

"We don't have any staff to receive patients," Rikabi told Reuters, adding that patients had been transferred to another hospital.

"At 9 a.m. on Monday around 40 soldiers and their officers stormed the hospital. They gathered all the staff in one place. They beat some people, including me," he said.

The Baghdad security official confirmed the raid, claiming bombs had been found in the hospital grounds.

Dozens of hospital workers demonstrated outside the Health Ministry in Baghdad on Tuesday demanding the immediate release of their colleagues.

The U.S. military meanwhile dismissed media reports that a well-known Mehdi Army brigade commander, Arkan Hasnawi, had died after being seriously wounded in a U.S. missile strike in Sadr City on Saturday.

Reports of his death spread like wildfire through the slum on Tuesday, but there was scepticism among some residents who saw them as an attempt to fool the Americans into thinking they had killed him.

A U.S. military official, Commander Scott Rye, said there was "no operational reporting to indicate that he (Hasnawi) has been killed".

Reuters
Last Mod: 07 Mayıs 2008, 11:53
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