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Fighting Breaks Out In Al-Fallujah

Al-Sadr fighters 28 April 2004 -- Fierce fighting erupted between U.S. Marines and Iraqi insurgents in the Sunni stronghold of Al-Fallujah last night.

Witnesses said U.S. aircraft, tanks, and artillery blasted two targets in the Jolan district of the town. Television footage of the town showed several fires raging at suspected weapons dumps.

A U.S. statement said the fighting in Al-Fallujah, a city of 300,000 people, began with an attack on marine positions. At the UN Security Council, UN envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi urged the U.S. to bring the crisis to a peaceful end.

Also yesterday, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said that U.S. forces have killed at least 64 Iraqi militiamen near the Shi'ite holy city of Al-Najaf, after Washington issued an ultimatum to radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, to withdraw his forces from all mosques and schools there.