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Iraqi Security Forces Clash with Shi'ite Militia Fighters South of Baghdad


Iraqi security forces have clashed with Shi'ite militia fighters in the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad.

Iraqi police and hospital officials say the clashes occurred in the Saydiyah neighborhood Thursday. At least three people were reported killed, including two policemen.

Reuters news agency quotes leaders of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's militia in Kut as denying their members were involved in the fighting, which raised concerns that a seven-month-old cease-fire by al-Sadr could be about to unravel.

U.S. military commanders say the number of attacks across Iraq has fallen by 60 percent since last June, but they warn that al-Qaida and other insurgent groups remain a dangerous force.

This week, in an interview with VOA's Persian News Network, President Bush said he was pleased with the political situation in Iraq five years after the U.S.-led invasion of the country. But he also said he is not yet satisfied because there is more work to be done.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, are scheduled next month to present their latest assessments on Iraq to the president and Congress.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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