Our sources in Najaf mentioned that clashes erupted between the Iraqi army and police on one side and members of the Sadr militia on the other.
The available information so far indicates that the clashes began this afternoon after the vehicle (or convoy) of a senior Sadr aide named Salah al-Obeidi didn't obey an order to stop at an army checkpoint. The soldiers manning the checkpoint reportedly opened fire and wounded al-Obeidi.
Our sources added that militiamen have taken positions in the Najaf cemetery while the army deployed units to the streets of the old city around the shrine of Imam Ali.
No casualties were reported so far.
Voices of Iraq confirms the news but says the clashes broke out "after an official from Sadr's office was denied entry to the old part of Najaf". Meanwhile NINA news reports that curfew was imposed at 6 pm by orders from the governor.
A spokesman of the governor's office speaking on al-Hurra denied a curfew was imposed and said everything is back to normal in the city yet he confirmed that Sadr's aide was indeed shot. It doesn't add up but while I hope he's telling the truth previous encounters tell us that escalations with Sadr militia tend to take time before they subside. We'll see…
The situation in Najaf returned to normal this morning after militiamen retreated without resistance reportedly obeying an order from Sadr.
This wasn't the type of the usually exciting stories from Iraq but I'm pleased with the way it ended.
If it's true that Sadr gave that order, I think it's not because he's trying to be nice but perhaps because he's beginning to realize that his militia can't afford open confrontations with government and coalition forces.
Having the ability to deter thugs from making trouble is better than having to fight in order to end the trouble.