Four killed as violent clashes move to Iraq’s southern Basra

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BAGHDAD, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Four people were killed in clashes among rival Shi’ite Muslim militants in the southern Iraqi city of Basra that took place overnight and on Thursday morning, local security officials said.

It was the latest violence to hit the country in a political crisis that pits followers of the powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr against mostly Iran-aligned parties and paramilitary groups.

The security officials said the clashes took place in the centre of Basra, Iraq’s main oil-producing hub. Two of those killed were members of Sadr’s Peace Brigades militia, they said.

Violence re-erupted in Iraq this week as armed supporters of Sadr fought with security forces and Iran-aligned gunmen in Baghdad in the fiercest street battles the capital has seen for years.

An intractable political deadlock between the two rival Shi’ite camps has left Iraq without a government since an October election. It has also deepened dysfunction and instability as Iraqis struggle to move on from decades of war, sanctions, civil strife and endemic corruption.

Reporting by John Davison and Baghdad Newsroom, editing by Mark Heinrich and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Members of Shiite militias loyal to Shiite cleric and Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr withdraw from the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. EPA-EFE/MURTAJA LATEEF

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