BAGHDAD (AP) – Clashes between security forces and Shiite militiamen in the capital’s war-torn Sadr City district killed two people and injured 18, police said Wednesday. Meanwhile, the British military said warplanes attacked gunmen in the southern port city of Basra early Wednesday.
The airstrike killed four militants and wounded one, spokesman Maj. Tom Holloway said.
In Sadr City, a police officer said those injured in gunbattles Tuesday included three women and three children.
Sadr City is a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because was is not authorized to speak to the media, said sporadic shooting was still going on and it was too dangerous to venture out on the streets.
The bloodshed in the capital and in Basra came a day after nearly 60 people died in a series of bombings in four cities in northern and central Iraq.
The bombings struck directly at U.S. claims that the Sunni insurgency is waning and being replaced by Shiite militia violence as a major threat.
The deadliest blasts took place in Baqouba and Ramadi, two cities where the U.S. military has claimed varying degrees of success in getting Sunnis to turn against al-Qaeda. It was the deadliest series of bombings in Iraq since March 6, when a twin bombing killed 68 people in a crowded shopping district in the central Baghdad district of Karradah.
Also Wednesday, the U.S. military said two Marines were killed by a roadside bomb in western Anbar province. The statement said the blast occurred on Sunday while their vehicle was under attack by enemy fighters.
The two deaths raise to at least 4,036 the number of U.S. military members who have died since the war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government said 33,121 detainees have been released since a general amnesty went into effect in February.
Spokesman Abdul-Sattar al-Berqdar said judicial reviews of thousands of other cases were continuing. He said that so far the reviews had identified 9,726 detainees who would not be released because they did not fall within the amnesty.