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Maktkampen mellom shiia-grupper som foregår i Basra, spredte seg mandag og tirsdag til Karbala, der én million mennesker er samlet for å feire den 12. imam. Igjen er det Mahdi-militsen som står i sentrum. De var i trefninger med politiet: 51 mennesker ble drept og 247 såret, mange av ofrene kvinner og barn

Mahdi-militsen vil gjerne fremstå som folkelige, men de gir fullstendig blaffen i sivile tap. Det hele begynte da for mange mennesker forsøkte å komme gjennom kontrollpunktene mandag kveld. Det oppsto uroligheter. Fem mennesker døde. Tirsdag morgen kom Mahdi-militsen for å ta hevn. Noen sier at hele episoden kvelden før var orkestrert.

Security officials said Mahdi Army gunmen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fired on guards around two shrines protected by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

Residents of Karbala contacted by telephone said snipers were firing on Iraqi security forces from rooftops. Explosions and the rattle of automatic weapons fire could be heard during telephone calls to reporters in the city 50 miles south of Baghdad.
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Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said entrances and exits to Karbala «have been secured and more forces are on the way from other provinces.» Officials said buses were sent to evacuate pilgrims from the city, which includes some of the world’s most sacred Shiite shrines.

Gunfights also broke out Tuesday between Mahdi militiamen and followers of the Supreme Council in at least two Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of the capital, police said.

Extra police took up positions in the center of another Shiite city, Diwaniyah, after gunmen fired on a mosque associated with the Supreme Council, police said. A curfew was clamped on the Shiite city of Najaf after a mortar round exploded on a major square, causing no casualties, officials said.

Man kan tolke dette som at maktkampen blant shiaene er i full gang, og den mest hensynsløse av dem er Mahdi-militsen. Mer shia-vold kan bare ødelegge amerikanernes tålmodighet og interesse. Hvis ikke sunniene gjør som shiaene, og reagerer med å ta skjeen i egen hånd.

Shiite gunmen clash at Karbala festival

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