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Clash In Kufa, Iraq Kills 20 - 2004-05-23


At least 20 people have been killed in the southern Iraqi town of Kufa, during a clash between U.S. troops and fighters loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

U.S. military officials said coalition troops killed 20 militiamen during a raid on a mosque. They say coalition forces found mortar launchers and ammunition, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and a machine gun stored inside the mosque compound.

Fighting was also reported in the nearby Iraqi holy city of Najaf. The identity and number of those who may have been killed there was not immediately clear.

Earlier, U.S. troops moved into the holy city of Karbala, but there was no sign of Sadr militiamen. Residents said the fighters had already pulled out of the city.

An aide to the radical cleric said his supporters and coalition troops were working on an agreement for both forces to leave after more than a month of fighting in the city. U.S. officials insist Moqtada al-Sadr must surrender and his militia disband.

In the southern port city of Basra five Iraqis, including a woman were killed when a mortar shell hit their home in al-Iskan, in the northern outskirts of the city. It was unclear who fired the mortar round.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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