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Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr taunts US

May 08, 2004 01:54 IST
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Surrounded by hundreds of armed militiamen, radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr railed against US President George Bush and the abuse of Iraqi prisoners during a sermon at the main mosque in Kufa on Friday, report agencies.

The United States would never control Iraqis and would be forced to leave eventually, he said, even as US forces killed eight members of the the Mehdi Army, the Shi'a militia that supports al-Sadr, and wounded 14 others.
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"What sort of freedom and democracy can we expect from you [Americans] when you take such joy in torturing Iraqi prisoners?" asked Sadr, demanding  that the US guards who have been charged with abuse be handed over to Iraqi courts for trial.

Referring to Mr Bush's apology on Thursday, the firebrand cleric said: "Your statements are not enough. They [the guards] must be punished in kind.

There was also fighting reported overnight near Al-Najaf between U.S. forces and al-Sadr supporters. Six members of a family were killed in the crossfire. South of Baghdad, Sadr loyalists shot and killed a Polish and an Algerian journalist. 

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