La confusion risque de régner un certain temps dans le bras-de-fer contre le Jaysh Al-Mahdi, sattelite de l'Iran.
Ces milices, lorsqu'elles doivent se replier, mettent les villes et leurs rues commerçantes à feu et à sang, cassant et incendiant les magasins. Ils ont également fait explosé un pipeline important pour le transit pétrolier, ce matin. Ce comportement partisan du chaos le plus total ne paraît pas en rapport avec le délai de 72 heures qui leur a été laissé par les forces régulières de Maliki pour déposer leurs armes, trahissant une désorganisation interne et donnant libre cours à la rage éperdue. Pas très convaincant pour des milices sur-entraînées en Iran, à qui semble manquer la discipline élémentaire.
Les rapports dans les nombres de tués ou blessés seraient de 1 à 10, dans certains secteurs, comme à Al Kut, capitale provinciale de Wasit, 4 policiers irakiens perdant la vie, là où 40 terroristes trouvaient la mort.
Des protestations orchestrées par le Mahdi tentent de faire barrage au retour à l'ordre. Tous les moyens politiques et para-militaires sont employés pour échapper à la dissolution.
by Karim Jamil 43 minutes ago
BASRA, Iraq (AFP) - Fighting rocked twocities on Thursday as security forces battled Shiite militiamen for a third day in clashes that left 105 people dead, while saboteurs blew up a key .
began on Tuesday in Basra when Prime Ministerordered his troops to crack down on "lawless gangs", spread on Thursday to the central city of Kut where at least 44 people died in early morning fighting, police said.
In Basra, where clashes broke out in a stronghold of theIn Baghdad, meanwhile, Sadr's followers staged noisy protests against the crackdown in Basra, demanding the resignation of Maliki, who is overseeing the military operations of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr soon after dawn, saboteurs blew up one of Iraq's two main oil export pipelines, an official said.
The police chief of Kut, Abdul Hanin al-Amara, told AFP that among those killed during a military assault that began around midnight were four policemen and 40 Shiite militiamen.
"The security forces launched an operation at around midnight (2100 GMT Wednesday) to take back areas under the control of Shiite gunmen," Amara said in Kut, 175 kilometres (110 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
"At least 40 gunmen and four policemen were killed. Around 75 people were wounded. Police have now imposed full control on these neighbourhoods."
The offensive followed days of sporadic clashes in Kut, between militiamen and Iraqi troops, during which according to witnesses gunmen ran through the streets, burning shops and public buildings.
An AFP correspondent in Basra, meanwhile, said heavy fighting erupted early Thursday in the central Jumhuriyah neighbourhood, abastion, which was rocked by rocket propelled grenade, mortar and small arms fire.
Police spokesman Colonel Karim al-Zaidi said the convoy of Basra police chief Major General Abdul Jalil Khalaf was hit by a suicide car bomber around 1:00 am on Thursday (2200 GMT Wednesday) as it passed through the streets of Basra.
Theput the toll from the Basra clashes at 20 dead but other, unconfirmed reports said 40 were killed.
The port city was covered in a thick black pall of smoke on Thursday from a blast which damaged an oil pipeline transporting crude from the Zubair oil field to the Al-Faw storage facility.
Samir al-Maksusi, spokesman for the Southern Oil Company, said the pipeline had been blown up with a bomb. "The blast directly affects the exports," he said.
In the central city of, where Iraqi forces have been battling Shiite militiamen, four policemen were killed in a bomb attack, police said.
Meanwhile in, an impoverished Shiite district of around two million people in east Baghdad, crowds gathered from 10:00 am (0700 GMT) outside the Sadr office to yell slogans against the prime minister.
"Maliki you are a coward! Maliki is an American agent! Leave the government, Maliki! How can you strike Basra?" the crowd chanted.
In the Kadhimiyah neighbourhood of north Baghdad, followers of Sadr carried a coffin covered in red fabric with an attached photograph of Maliki set against the background of an American flag.
Officials said the death toll from clashes in Sadr City Tuesday and Wednesday had risen to 30.
The Sadr movement had announced on Wednesday it would hold protest rallies against Maliki in Baghdad and the southern city of Amara, while Sadr has threatened to launch a civil revolt if the attacks against the militiamen are not halted.
On Wednesday, Maliki gave militiamen battling his forces in Basra 72 hours to lay down their arms and warned that those failing to do so would face the full brunt of the law.
Basra has become the theatre of a bitter turf war between theand two rival Shiite factions -- the powerful Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim and the smaller Fadhila party.
An aide to Sadr said representatives of the Iraqi government and a Sadrist official held preliminary talks by telephone on Thursday in a bid to end the crisis in Basra.
Iraqi and US embassy officials, meanwhile said insurgents fired rockets into the heavily fortified Baghdad Green Zone causing a major blaze.
The Green Zone, which was once's presidential compound, has been repeatedly hit by rocket and mortar fire in recent days, wounding at least three Americans.