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The Rediff Election Special /

US troops storm Samarra; 90 killed

October 01, 2004

At least 90 people were killed and 180 wounded on Friday as US and Iraqi forces stormed Samarra to reclaim it from rebels prior to proposed elections in January. The Iraqi forces detained 25 insurgents.

In the pre-dawn assault on Samarra, 125 km north of Baghdad, 2,500 US troops and 1,000 Iraqi soldiers seized the city hall and police stations. "In response to repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces (US military terminology for insurgents), Iraqi security personnel and multi-national forces stationed in Iraq secured the government and police buildings in Samarra," said a US military spokesman.

Fierce clashes erupted between gunmen and the soldiers in the city center, around the gold-domed Imam Ali Al Hadi shrine. The shrine is revered by Shiite Muslims all over the world. The Iraqi army's 36th Commando Battalion, however, quickly secured the area and there was no damage to the shrine, the military said.

The operation is part of the interim government's plans to restore order in the Sunni Muslim triangle by November.

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