Friday, October 20, 2006

Return of the Mook

The fighting between Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and SCIRI's Badr Brigade - discussed, in part, in a previous post - has flared up again in the southern city of Amara yesterday. Moqtada's militia struck in a bold fashion:

The Shiite militia run by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr seized total control of the southern Iraqi city of Amarah on Friday in one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by one of the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said. [...]

The Mahdi Army fighters stormed three main police stations Friday morning, planting explosives that flattened the buildings, residents said.

About 800 black-clad militiamen with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were patrolling city streets in commandeered police vehicles, eyewitnesses said. Other fighters had set up roadblocks on routes into the city and sound trucks circulated telling residents to stay indoors.

Fighting broke out in Amara on Thursday after the head of police intelligence in the surrounding province, a member of the rival Shiite Badr Brigade militia, was killed by a roadside bomb, prompting his family to kidnap the teenage brother of the local head of the a-Madhi Army.

The Mahdi Army seized several police stations and clamped a curfew on the city in retaliation.

The SCIRI/Sadr fighting is definitely something to keep an eye on. As is Maliki's reaction, and possible cooperation with SCIRI in an effort to rein in Sadr's increasing power.

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