22 dead and 210 injured after Iraqi protest

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Protesters also clashed with Italian and British forces in other cities in a broad, violent challenge to the US-led coalition, which is trying to stabilize Iraq ahead of a June 30 handover of power to Iraqis.

Late Sunday, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and a team that will assist Iraqis in the political transition to an interim Iraqi government arrived in Baghdad, the United Nations announced.

Five kilometers east of Najaf, shooting broke out after thousands of supporters of al-Sadr, many dressed in black, gathered outside the Spanish garrison.

Coalition soldiers, including Americans, Spanish and Salvadorans, fired back, and assailants later regrouped in three clusters outside the base. Shooting continued for several hours. Two coalition soldiers were killed.

US Air Force fighter jets and US Army gunship helicopters flew to the area, but did not open fire.


Spain has 1,300 troops stationed in Iraq. Bombings in Madrid last month killing 191 people was seen as a punishment to Spain for its alliance with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Spain’s new government, elected just days after the bombing, has promised to withdraw all Spanish troops from Iraq unless command for peacekeeping is turned over to the United Nations.