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Najaf Standoff Continues; U.S. Soldier Dies In Attack

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2004 – Militia under the command of radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr are apparently still in control of a holy shrine in the Iraqi city of Najaf, news reports say today.

Sadr's Mahdi Army followers have been holed up in and around the Iman Ali mosque since fighting broke out anew in Najaf Aug. 5.

Sadr's militia was supposed to disarm and turn the shrine over to more moderate Iraqi Shiite religious leaders as part of a recent deal brokered by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

In other Iraq news, one U.S. soldier was killed and two others were injured today in southern Baghdad when their vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, according to the Coalition Press Information Center. The deceased soldier's name is being withheld until family members are notified.

And, one Polish soldier was killed and six other Poles were wounded today near al Hillah, Iraq, by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, the CPIC reported. The wounded Poles were evacuated to military medical facilities. Quick reaction forces were sent to investigate the site of the attack.

In other news, Iraqi police and coalition troops seized an anti-Iraqi force suspect today near Tuz and confiscated a sub-machinegun, the CPIC reported. The detainee was taken to the Tuz police station for questioning.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded Aug. 20 when their patrol encountered an improvised explosive device near Samarra, according to the CPIC. The wounded were evacuated to a medical facility for treatment. The names of the killed and wounded are being withheld until the next-of-kin are notified.

In another raid conducted Aug. 20, Iraqi and coalition forces confiscated weapons and munitions at two cache sites near Muqdadiyah, according to the CPIC. Items confiscated include: 33 rocket-propelled grenades, six RPG launchers, five RPG boosters, six rocket tubes, one 160mm rocket, one 180mm rocket, one 157mm rocket 32 boxes of RPK ammunition, four artillery fuses and one mine.

And, the CPIC reported that U.S. 1st Infantry Division soldiers captured two anti-Iraqi force members Aug. 20 after a U.S. patrol was attacked near Khalis. The detainees were taken in for questioning.

Earlier Aug. 20, five suspected insurgents were captured following an improvised explosive device detonation near Tuz. Coalition forces observed one person running away from the area following the explosion and pursued him, and Iraqi National Guard troops assisted with an outer cordon of the area. Copper wire, rocket-propelled grenade sights and one mortar round were confiscated. The five detainees and confiscated material were taken to Multi-National Force detention facilities.

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