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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
US troops battle Karbala militia
Iraqi people carry the coffin of one of those who died in Kerbala on Friday
The US military usually stays out of the holy city of Kerbala
Clashes between Shia militiamen and a joint US-Iraqi force have left nine people dead in an Iraqi holy city.

Around 23 people were wounded in the fighting in Karbala as US and Iraqi troops carried out a pre-dawn raid.

Shooting began as the US-Iraqi force moved in to arrest figures from the Mehdi Army, which is loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

South-central Iraq has been riven by battles between rival Shia militias and US and Iraqi forces in recent months.

Several civilians were reported to have been killed in the clashes, which saw helicopters called in to support the US troops.

A spokesman for a political group linked to the Mehdi Army told the AFP news agency that three of the dead were fighters from the Shia militia.

The US military, which usually stays out of Karbala, has not commented on the incident.

Karbala, 110 km (70 miles) south-west of Baghdad, is the site of one of the holiest shrines for Shia Muslims.

Meanwhile, an American soldier died in a roadside bomb attack in Diyala.




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