US helicopters attack Shi'ite militia in Najaf

 

Two US helicopter gunships attacked Shia militia positions in the holy city of Najaf on Sunday, hours after Iraq's government ordered the gunmen to lay down their weapons, a Reuters witness said.

The witness said the gunships fired missiles at positions near Najaf's ancient cemetery manned by the Mehdi Army militia loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

It is the fourth consecutive day of fighting that has claimed hundreds of casualties.

Interim Prime Minister Mr Iyad Allawi, on a surprise visit to the city earlier in the day, had ruled out negotiations with the militia and demanded gunmen lay down their arms and quit Najaf.