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More Violence Wracks Iraq


Violence continued in Iraq on Monday following a bloody weekend that included a battle in Najaf that Iraqi officials say left about 200 militants dead and more than 100 in custody. VOA's Jim Randle reports has more from Baghdad.

Iraqi officials say U.S. and Iraqi forces fought militants in a day-long battle that began early Sunday near the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.

Shaky images and sound from a mobile phone-camera showed Iraqi police in a furious fight. They were joined by Iraqi Army and U.S. forces, including U.S. tanks and aircraft.

The U.S. military says two Americans died when their helicopter crashed in the midst of the battle.

It is at least the third crash of an American helicopter in recent days.

Iraqi authorities say the insurgents were well organized and well trained.

Iraqi sources say the fighters were planning to attack Shi'ite clerics taking part in the Ashura observance in the holy city of Karbala this week.

Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police are in Karbala to protect Shi'ite pilgrims during the holiday.

Ashura marks the seventh-century death of the Shi'ite Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Shi'ites believe Hussein was the prophet's heir. Hussein's death solidified Islam's split into rival Sunni and Shi'ite sects.

Monday violence continued elsewhere in Iraq, leaving a number of people dead and injured.

While a car bomb took another life in eastern Baghdad.

Meantime, there was a mortar attack against a Shiite neighborhood in a Sunni-dominated town, Jurf al-Sakhar, 70 kilometers south of Baghdad.

This witness said mortar rounds fell like rain.

Police said ten people died.

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