Residents: Iraqi soldiers warn them to leave Sadr City

Iraqi soldiers for the first time warned residents in the embattled Sadr City district to leave their houses Thursday, signaling a new attack by the U.S.-backed forces against Sadr men.

Residents: Iraqi soldiers warn them to leave Sadr City

Iraqi soldiers, using loudspeakers, told residents in some virtually abandoned areas of southeastern Sadr City to go to nearby soccer stadiums, residents said.

UNICEF says about 6,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Sadr City, most of them from the southeastern section.

U.S. forces have increased air power and armored patrols in Sadr City, a slum of 2.5 million people that serves as the Baghdad base for the Mahdi Army led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The U.S. military is trying to weaken the Sadr's influence in the slum.

At least four people were killed and 13 injured in clashes late Wednesday in Sadr City, Iraqi health officials said Thursday. It was not clear whether any fighters were among them.

On Wednesday, Claire Hajaj, a UNICEF spokeswoman based in Jordan, said up to 150,000 people — including 75,000 children — were isolated in sections of Sadr City "cordoned off by military forces."

She said about 6,000 have fled their homes.

Iraqi soldiers on Thursday shut down a local radio station, al-Aahad, run by the Sadrists after raiding offices of the station in a neighborhood near Sadr City, police said.

Meanwhile, gunmen wearing police uniforms killed a police captain Wednesday after kidnapping him from a police station in Shiite neighborhood of Abu Dshir, police said Thursday. His body was found near the station.

In the southeastern Shiite city of Kut, gunmen on Thursday stormed the Technical Institute and abducted a professor, Nuri Kamil Khanjar, local police said. It was not clear why Khanjar was kidnapped.

Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Mayıs 2008, 16:20
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