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Forces Instruct Sadr City Residents to Leave
Eyewitnesses: Suspected Mahdi Army Men Kill Member of Rival Militia
By GREG HOADLEY, SLOGGER NETWORK 05/09/2008 2:52 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Residents of two Sadr City sectors have told IraqSlogger that they were instructed by Iraqi forces to leave their homes on Thursday to make way for intensified operations to clear militiamen from the besieged district.

US and Iraqi forces control sectors 1-9 of Sadr City, located towards the southeast of the sprawling grid that makes up the populous slum in eastern Baghdad.

Now, civilians living in sectors 10 and 11, across the street from the first nine sectors, tell Slogger that Iraqi forces have instructed residents of these sectors to vacate the premises and relocate temporarily to Sha'b stadium, also in eastern Baghdad.

The head of the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization said earlier that his group was preparing for "thousands" of Sadr City residents to flee to two stadiums designated to house refugees from the besieged district.

Meanwhile, suspected Mahdi Army militiamen continue to launch rockets and mortars towards the fortified Green Zone area in the center of the city, where the Iraqi government and US forces are headquartered, locals say.

In some areas of Sadr City, militiamen continue to prevent Iraqis from going to work in government positions, and still attacking suspected members of rival political organizations, especially the Badr organization, widely recognized as the paramilitary wing of the pro-government Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council, a Shi'a political grouping that is the major rival to the Sadrist Current in the Iraqi Shi'a community.

On Monday at noon, locals say that a middle aged man was killed as he walked through the streets of Sadr City when a pickup truck with masked gunmen appeared and fired on him with a PKC machine gun. Residents in the area explained that the victim was a known member of the Badr organization, which arouses suspicions that the assassins were in some way associated with the Mahdi Army militia.

The Mahdi Army militia is technically under cease-fire orders from the Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but fighting has raged for more than a month in Sadr City between US and Iraqi forces on the one hand and militia elements on the other, although it is still not clear to what extent the official Sadrist organization exercises control over the militiamen who are continuing to fight in Sadr City.

Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

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