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Hundreds Demonstrate In Al-Najaf, Urge Al-Sadr To Go

Al-Sadr fighters (file photo) 11 May 2004 -- Hundreds of people marched through the Iraqi city of Al-Najaf today, urging radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia to leave the city.

As marchers passed by al-Sadr's office, fighters from the cleric's Imam Al-Mahdi Army fired their weapons in the air. But there were no clashes and the march continued without incident.

Al-Sadr and members of his militia are in Al-Najaf in a stand-off with U.S. forces who have surrounded the city, demanding his surrender.

The new U.S.-appointed governor of Al-Najaf, Adnan al-Zurufi, said today legal proceedings against al-Sadr over the murder of a rival would be delayed until after 30 June, when Iraq is due to gain sovereignty, if the cleric disbands his militia.