Kurd Fighters, Islamic Militants Battle (AP) By Borzou Daragahi SHASHIK, Iraq 12/04/02 4:10 AM)
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SHASHIK, Iraq –– About 20 Kurdish militiamen were killed or injured
Wednesday in a battle with Islamic militants believed to be linked to
al-Qaida in northern Iraq, Kurdish military officials said.
Militants from the Ansar al-Islam seized two hilltop positions of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan near the city of Halabja, said Sheik
Jaffar Mustafa of the Kurdish militia.
Mustafa said he believed his force had suffered about 20 casualties,
but he did not know how had been killed and how many wounded because
his side had been unable to retrieve the bodies. Nor did he know how
many casualties the militants had suffered.
Smoke could be seen rising from near the two hills at the base of the
Suren Mountains along the Iraq-Iran border. The guerrillas from Ansar
al-Islam fired heavy artillery as they charged the Kurdish positions,
While some of the Ansar al-Islam forces are Kurds, Mustafa said they
also include Arab Afghans believed to have ties to the al-Qaida
terrorist movement of Osama bin Laden. Some fighters from the group
have said they trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan but denied
having any current links to bin Laden´s group.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan rushed in reinforcements from its
special forces as ambulances took wounded fighters to Halabja, six
miles away. Officials at the Halabja hospital said they treated six
victims of gunshots. (© 2002 The Associated Press 12/04/02)
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