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New Violence In Iraq As Al-Najaf Experiences Calm

29 August 2004 -- New violence is reported in Iraq as residents of Al-Najaf begin digging out after three weeks of fierce fighting between militiamen and U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Shi'a militants and U.S. forces have been battling in the Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Sadr City. A Health Ministry official says 10 people were killed in skirmishes over the last 24 hours.

In northern Iraq today, U.S. troops shot dead two assailants who opened fire on their patrol west of Mosul. And U.S. warplanes and tanks bombarded targets yesterday in the Sunni stronghold of Al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

In Al-Najaf, meanwhile, Iraqi police are patrolling the city's devastated Old City following a peace agreement between Shi'a militiamen and Iraqi and U.S. forces.

Iraqi militants also have kidnapped two French journalists in an effort to convince France to overturn a ban on students wearing Islamic head coverings.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is due to hold an emergency meeting today to plan a response.