U.S. forces in Iraq have briefly encircled the Baghdad offices of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and have detained at least three of the cleric's aides.
The U.S. tanks and armored vehicles moved into place (Saturday) after militiamen loyal to the cleric attacked British forces in the southern city of Basra.
Several hundred members of the militia known as the Mehdi Army attacked British patrols in several districts, using assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades,
British commanders sent reinforcements to the center of Basra, where a large crowd had gathered near Southern Oil Company headquarters. British troops also surrounded Mr. al-Sadr's Basra office.
Two Iraqis were killed and three British soldiers were wounded in the Basra clashes.
Further north in the town of Amara, British troops fought with militiamen after storming an al-Sadr office. A British spokesman says at least two coalition soldiers were wounded and three gunmen killed in the Amara battle.
U.S. troops also clashed with al-Sadr militiamen (Saturday) in the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.