Coalition Soldier Dies in Karbala Battle

Published May 05, 2004

| Associated Press

Clashes with Shiite militiamen loyal to a radical cleric left one coalition soldier dead in a southern Iraqi city on Wednesday, while hundreds of Iraqis protested the treatment of prisoners in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison (search).

The Polish command in Iraq said in a statement that the soldier was killed in Karbala in fighting with a militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr (search). There was no immediate information on the nationality of the soldier. Polish peacekeepers are active in the area.

U.S. soldiers clashed repeatedly earlier this week with al-Sadr militiamen in the nearby city of Najaf, where the anti-American cleric is based.

President Bush was to conduct brief interviews with the U.S.-sponsored Al-Hurra television network and the Arab network Al Arabiya on Wednesday to address Arab and Iraqi outrage at photographs of prisoners being abused by smiling American guards.

Outside Abu Ghraib prison, Iraqi protesters chanted "democracy doesn't mean killing innocent people" and "America and Israel are the enemies of God."

U.S. officials have said that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an aberration, and that the guilty soldiers and their commanders would face justice. The prison was a notorious center for torture and killings during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Condoleezza Rice (search), Bush's national security adviser, told the Arab television network Al Arabiya that Bush was "determined to find out if there is any wider problem than just what happened at Abu Ghraib. And so he has told Secretary (of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld that he expects an investigation, a full accounting."

Six military police face are facing criminal charges as a result of probes and seven officers who were their commanders have been disciplined administratively.

Iraq's U.S.-appointed human rights minister, Abdul-Basat al-Turki said Tuesday he had resigned to protest the abuses.

Interior Minister Samir Shaker Mahmoud al-Sumeidi said Iraqi officials must have a role in running prisons.

"We have been calling for greater participation — or at least at the beginning, some participation — by Iraqi authorities in the running and management of the prisons," al-Sumeidi said.

The U.S. military called in a new commander to take charge of prisons in Iraq after the previous chief, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, was suspended amid the abuse investigations.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller said Tuesday that the military would cut the number of prisoners at Abu Ghraib from the current 3,800 to fewer than 2,000

The U.S. military also said it was ordering troops to use blindfolds instead of hoods, and requiring interrogators to get permission before depriving inmates of sleep, a technique that released Iraqi prisoners say was common.

Prisoners also said that beatings during arrest or interrogation were routine as were jolts from cattle prods or stun guns.

Miller, however, said U.S. interrogators are prohibited from hitting prisoners.

"There are interrogation techniques that increase anxiety," Miller said. "There is aggressive conversation, but we do not threaten. That is not something we do. There is no physical contact between the detainees authorized and the interrogator."

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