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'US forces clash with Iraqi militia, 9 killed'

By Super

Baghdad, Jul 7: Up to nine people were killed in clashes between US troops and the Mehdi Army militia of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in eastern Baghdad early today, police and witnesses said. An Interior Ministry source said the clashes erupted when US forces backed by helicopters raided houses in the slum district of Sadr City, a stronghold, of Sadr's Mehdi Army at 0330 hrs IST.

The source, who did not want to be named, said nine people were killed and 31 wounded. Four houses were also destroyed.

A police source put the death toll at seven and said the casualties were all militiamen.

The US military said in a statement the raid had been by Iraqi soldiers, aimed at capturing an insurgent leader responsible for numerous deaths.

''The forces were immediately engaged by insurgents and a firefight ensued,'' the military said in a statement, adding that no Iraqi or US troops had been wounded or killed in the operation.



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