Saturday, May 26, 2007

British call in airstrike in Basra as Mahdi militia attacks following Friday's killing of leader

Above: Mahdi army members carry the coffin of one of eight killed Friday in clashes. Left: 23 year-old Abu Qadir, leader of the Mahdi militia in Basra, was killed Friday in what the British claim was a shootout as British and Iraqi troops tried to arrest him.

British forces used an airstrike as they fought off attacks in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, military officials said on Saturday, but angry residents said the strike killed eight civilians.

British and Iraqi forces came under a series of attacks for more than two hours overnight in Basra, a gateway to the Gulf and Iraq's rich southern oilfields, by insurgents using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

The attacks against British and Iraqi posts came hours after Wissam Abdul Qader, also known as Abu Qader, the head of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Basra, was killed by Iraqi special forces on Friday.

Read the rest at Reuters