Five killed as Shiite rivals clash in Iraq’s southern Basra

Baghdad, Sep 1 (EFE).- At least five people were killed and several wounded after clashes broke out between rival Shiite rival in the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight, local police said Thursday.

A police official told Efe on the condition of anonymity that two of the fatalities belonged to the Saraya al-Salam, the military wing affiliated with influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, while the rest were followers of the Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq (League of the Righteous), a militia group within the Iranian-backed Coordination Framework alliance.

The deceased brought the death toll from the violence that erupted in Baghdad on Monday and Tuesday following al-Sadr’s announcement that he was retiring from Iraqi politics to 40.

On Tuesday, calm returned to Baghdad after al-Sadr ordered his followers to end their protests, leave their sit-in and withdraw from Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, which houses government institutions and foreign embassies.

But the killing of a Saraya al-Salam member and the injury of another have once again sparked violence in Basra, some 500 kilometers south of the capital, according to the police source.

The situation has been brought under control after security forces were deployed in the city, the source pointed out.

Qais al-Khazali, the chief of Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, urged his followers Thursday to close all their offices and not respond to provocations.

Political tension has been on the rise in the Arab country since last year’s October parliamentary elections.

Al-Sadr’s bloc secured 73 seats in the 329-strong parliament.

But that was well short of a majority and a deadlock ensued with the Sadrists at loggerheads not only with Kurdish parties but also with other Shiite groupings with close ties to Iran.

Sadrist lawmakers resigned in June and since then the cleric has mobilized his supporters in the streets.EFE


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