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Sadr City clashes leave dozens dead
Up to 33 Iraqis and an American soldier have been killed in clashes between US forces and fighters loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad's Sadr City.
A rocket-propelled grenade attack killed the US soldier and wounded two others in the slum on Tuesday, US Lieutenant-Colonel James Hutton said.
Senior Health Ministry official Saad al-Amili said a total of 33 people were killed and 193 injured in the Sadr City clashes in the previous 24 hours.
Fifteen were killed and 67 wounded on Tuesday morning alone, he added.
Residents said loud explosions and gunfire could be heard across the city on Monday night and clashes spilled over into Tuesday morning.
Another US army spokesman, Captain Brian O'Malley, said the clashes erupted when fighters attacked US forces carrying out routine patrols.
"We just kept coming under fire," he said.
A spokesman for al-Sadr's office in Sadr City said the clashes were a result of "arrest operations and provocative action carried out by the US forces every day".
"We are ready to hold negotiations similar to those which have taken place in Najaf"
al-Sadr spokesman, Sadr City
"US forces, tanks and helicopters raid the city every day using toxic gases," Raed al-Kadhemi said. "The houses and shops are being stormed every day.
"We are holding current negotiations with the Iraqi interim government to end this crisis," he said, but added: "the daily raids are foiling our attempts".
"We are ready to hold negotiations similar to those which have taken place in Najaf," he said.
The renewed fighting came after a period of calm in the impoverished neighbourhood after Shia leader al-Sadr called on his followers last week to observe a ceasefire.
But al-Sadr aides later said peace talks in Sadr City between his representatives and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government had stalled, with the interim government refusing militia demands for American troops to keep out of the troubled district.
Fighting between US forces and Shia insurgents across Baghdad's Sadr City suburb has left at least 34 dead.
Clashes in the last 24 hours also injured at least 170 Iraqis, health officials said. One US soldier is among the dead and several were wounded.
The area is a bastion of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr, who recently called on followers to observe a ceasefire.
Also in Baghdad, the city's governor narrowly escaped an assassination attempt targeting his convoy.
Loud explosions and gunfire were heard across the Sadr City throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning, as US fighter jets flew overhead.
A US army captain quoted by Associated Press says said the American soldier was killed by small arms fire when militants attacked troops carrying out routine patrols in Sadr City.
"We just kept coming under fire," Capt Brian O'Malley said.
A spokesman for Mr Sadr blamed intrusive American incursions into the area for the violence, and said his forces "had no choice but to return fire".
Mr Sadr's Mehdi Army militia has been involved in numerous clashes with US-led forces in Iraq in recent months.
A peace deal in August ended weeks of fighting in the southern city of Najaf, but sporadic fighting has continued elsewhere.
Many Sadr militiamen are believed to have since returned from Najaf to Sadr City - a heavily-populated slum in north-east Baghdad named after Mr Sadr's father, a senior cleric assassinated in 1999 reportedly on Saddam Hussein's orders.
Separate roadside bombs in Baghdad a day earlier killed three American soldiers, the US military said on Tuesday.
A fourth soldier died in a blast near Mosul on the same day.
The attacks bring the number of Americans killed in Iraq in the last 24 hours to 11 and the total number since the March 2003 invasion to nearly 1,000.
In addition to the attack on the Governor of Baghdad, the son of the governor of the northern province of Niniveh was killed in a drive-by shooting, hospital officials said.
Nineteen-year-old Leith Dureid Kashmula was hit by two bullets in the chest and rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries, hospital staff in Mosul said.
He had been alone in the car in the west of the city when he was attacked. The current governor's predecessor was assassinated in July.