Fighting in Baghdad's Shiite stronghold, students abducted

Other News Materials 6 April 2008 17:08 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Gunmen kidnapped 42 students in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul while clashes between a joint US-Iraqi force and Shiite militiamen continued in Baghdad's Sadr City, according to police and eyewitnesses.

Gunmen stopped a bus carrying 42 students from the University of Mosul on the main highway between Baghdad and Mosul, local security officials said.

The students were seized and taken to an unknown place.

In east Baghdad's Sadr City, explosions and exchanges of fire have been heard since last night and this morning, eyewitnesses told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

US helicopters have been seen hovering over the area, the witnesses said.

US and Iraqi troops made incursions Saturday night into several areas in Sadr City and were engaged in fighting with gunmen, which caused fatalities, eyewitnesses told the Voices of Iraq news agency.

"We are staying home as the clashes are still going on," an eyewitness said.

"Several main roads have been closed, which forced people to stay home. US snipers took position on rooftops of buildings," another witness said.

A spokesman for the US-led multinational forces has declined to comment on the latest outbreak of fighting in Sadr City.

Last Sunday, al-Sadr ordered his fighters from the Mahdi Army militia to stop fighting government troops in Basra and other southern Iraqi cities.

The government launched on March 25 an offensive targeting mainly al-Sadr's militiamen in Basra but halted military operations after al-Sadr's move to halt fighting.

Fighting in Sadr City, however, though sporadic, has continued.