Heavy fighting resumes after lull in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Fighting erupted in Baghdad's Sadr City overnight after a day's lull, dashing residents' hopes of a let-up in clashes between US and government troops and Shi'ite gunmen who control the streets of the sprawling slum.

BAGHDAD - Fighting erupted in Baghdad's Sadr City overnight after a day's lull, dashing residents' hopes of a let-up in clashes between US and government troops and Shi'ite gunmen who control the streets of the sprawling slum.

Angry mourners carried a coffin containing the body of a man killed in the clashes through the streets.

A hospital said seven wounded had arrived overnight. Residents swept out the rubble from freshly damaged buildings.

An explosion in central Baghdad's Tayaran Square killed five people and wounded nine, police said.

Sadr City, home to more than 2million people, has been the focus of fighting between government and US forces and the masked gunmen loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who control its streets. The slum is named for Sadr's slain father, a revered cleric, whose supporters now rally around his anti-American son.

After three weeks trapped in the battle zone amid nightly bombardment, residents had hoped for a break in the fighting when the government lifted a vehicle blockade on Saturday. But a relatively quiet Sunday ended with more fighting overnight.

"We heard the sound of bombing and clashes after midnight," said grocer Ali Sittar. "It lasted for about an hour and then it stopped."

The battles with Sadr's followers, which began with a government crackdown in the southern city of Basra in late March, have involved the heaviest fighting in Iraq since the first half of 2007, ending a long trend of declining violence. - Reuters

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