(dpa) - At least four people were killed Wednesday and three others wounded, while Iraqi forces arrested an Iraqi official in the southern city of Basra, eye witnesses and security sources said.Air raids by the multinational forces in Iraq targeted houses in the Hayaniya district in Basra, some 550 kilometres south of Baghdad, witnesses told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The airstrikes killed four civilians and wounded another three, witnesses said.
US military however said five militants engaging in criminal activities in the city were struck on Wednesday aournd 1:00 am by US helicopters. Four of the militants were killed and one injured.
In the late hours of Tuesday, Iraqi forces and militants from the Mahdi Army, which is loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, clashed intensively in the same city, witnesses told dpa.
Also in Basra, Iraqi security sources told dpa that Safaa Abdul- Hussein, assistant to the general manager of Iraq's ports company, was arrested Wednesday on charges of engaging in violent activities.
Sources said Abdul-Hussein was taken from his home as part of a security offensive launched by the government codenamed Charge of the Knights to clear Basra of militants and criminal gangs.
Security forces had earlier decided to fire Abdul-Hussein from his job for being involved in violence in the city.
Abdul-Karim Khalaf, Iraqi police department chief, told dpa that an army officer and a police officer were also demoted and moved to work at Iraq's defence ministry.
Sources claim the two officers had refused to fight Mahdi army militants.
On Monday, Khalaf said that aournd 1,300 Iraqi police officers were fired for refusing to contribute to the security operation in Basra.
Separately, al-Jazeera news channel reported that Turkish air raids hit militants from the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq Wednesday.