Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

Basrans struggling under gunfire

Two Iraqis describe developments in the fight between the Iraqi army and militias for control of Basra.


A man displays a propaganda leaflet
A leaflet dropped from a helicopter proclaims "For a better Basra"

This morning was really terrible. The Mehdi Army have occupied a primary school near where we live in the Janina district.

There are lots of houses between us and the school, but we could hear the gunbattle.

It's a bit quieter now.

My brother rang a cousin this morning who lives in a Mehdi Army stronghold, called Amin Dakhlee.

Until now the Iraqi army had just surrounded it - and other areas - without going in.

But our cousin said the Iraqi army actually went in this morning and took it from the militants.

I think this is the first area they've done this to. We welcome what the Iraqi army is doing, the militias have had too much power.

We weren't aware that [Iraqi prime minister] Maliki had extended the deadline for them to hand in their weapons.

If the authorities give the militias more time - hopefully they will run out of ammunition.

I am actually surprised how much ammunition they have. There's been constant firing and it's not over yet.

The water supply is back, but here in Basra we tend to buy bottled water and not drink it straight from the tap.

And that's one of the difficulties, the shops have been shut. We might have to start boiling water.

I've started seeing the odd car and truck driving through the streets selling food and water. We haven't ventured out yet - we went as far as the gate and came back.


I left the house today for the first time since Wednesday to buy some water.

The shop was closed but I knocked on the door and they let me in.

I may have to do this again soon for food. There are six of us here and we have nearly run out of everything.

It's a bit quieter right now, but we don't know what will happen later. Maybe the militias are preparing themselves for the next round of fighting.

I agree with the Iraqi army trying to control the militia. I have been personally threatened by them and I now have to hide my identity.

However, I don't agree with the timing of all this.

I don't know when would be a good time, but the way they are doing it now means lots of innocent people are suffering and getting hurt.

We are all stuck indoors with not much to eat, no medicine. It started so suddenly.

I was at the market on Sunday evening, it was quiet. Then at 2200 local time we heard Maliki had ordered this crackdown and everything started happening.

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