Sadr Militia Still Controls Iraq Shrine — Witnesses
Shi’ite fighters appeared to be in control of a holy shrine in Najaf Friday hours after Iraq’s interim government said it had overcome a bloody uprising by seizing the Imam Ali mosque without a shot being fired. Witnesses in the southern city said Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr controlled the narrow alleys leading to the mosque, though the Shi’ite leader’s whereabouts were unknown. Police were nowhere to be seen. Police in Najaf told CNN they did not control the site, Iraq’s holiest Shi’ite Muslim shrine, the broadcaster reported. The confusion over the fate of the mosque swirled as the rebellion that has killed hundreds and driven world oil prices to record highs entered its third week. Residents said the clashes died down after dark, with the calm only broken sporadically by U.S. aircraft flying overhead.