US army kills 38 Shia gunmen in Iraq (Lead)

April 28th, 2008 - 5:15 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, April 28 (DPA) US troops killed 38 Shia gunmen in separate clashes in eastern and northeastern parts of Baghdad, including 22 fighters in an attack on a manned US-Iraqi checkpoint, the US military said Monday. At 6.35 p.m. (local time) Sunday, Iraqi and US army troops manning a security checkpoint were attacked by a large group of “criminals” using small-arms fire, according to the military statement.

The US soldiers used tank fire and small-arms fire to kill the 22 gunmen, forcing others to retreat, the statement said.

The US military uses the term “criminals” to describe fighters from the Mahdi Army militia of radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Earlier, US troops killed 16 gunmen in separate attacks Sunday.

In one incident, at around 8.30 a.m. (local time), a gunman was killed in an airstrike after he fired at US soldiers with small-arms fire in northeastern Baghdad, the military said.

In another incident also in northeastern part of Baghdad, seven gunmen attacked a US patrol with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

The soldiers killed the gunmen using “120 mm tank rounds and machine-gun fire from an M1A2 Abrams tank,” according to the military.

Eight other fighters were killed after they launched separate attacks on US troops using small-arms fire and RPGs.

The Mahdi Army militia has been engaging since the end of March in deadly fighting with Iraqi and US troops in Shia dominated areas in east and northeast Baghdad, mainly in Sadr City.

Al-Sadr Sunday rejected preconditions set by the Iraqi government for talks to end the fighting.

The government made talks with al-Sadr conditional on his fighters handing over their arms, ending their interference in the government’s affairs, handing over fighters wanted by the authorities and providing the names of those involved in violence.

But a spokesman for al-Sadr rejected those conditions.

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