12 dead in Iraq violence
* All options still on table for Iraq: US
* No deal yet as Iraq talks to return Sadr to govt break off
SAMAWA: Another 12 Iraqis have died in violence, including six people killed during clashes between police and militiamen loyal to Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr, officials said on Saturday.
The fighting erupted after the main weekly Muslim prayers in the mainly Shia southern city of Samawa on Friday and continued throughout Saturday with gunbattles and insurgent mortar attacks, police said.
“Since last night, the hospital has received six dead — five policemen and one civilian,” said Lieutenant Ahmed Hadi, in charge of security at Samawa hospital.
There was no news on militia casualties, but 19 people were wounded, including at least seven policemen, said police.
Two policemen were killed when a mortar round crashed into the impoverished town’s police headquarters on Saturday. The others died from gunshot wounds during the clashes, Hadi said.
Meanwhile, two Iraqi soldiers were killed in an insurgent mortar attack targeting an observation post on the eastern approach to Fallujah, Commander Sattar Latif al-Jomaili said.
Four more Iraqis were killed on Saturday in a series of shootings and bombings in the troubled cities of Baquba and Kirkuk.
The defence ministry announced separately that 15 suspected “terrorists” were arrested in Diyala province. Bodies of an army officer, policeman and civilian were found in and around the city of Diwaniyah.
The White House said on Saturday that all options were still open for Iraq as President George W Bush had a briefing from his new defence chief, just back from Iraq. “The president is leaving all options on the table on the way forward,” Blain Rethmeier, a White House spokesman, said.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with Bush at the Camp David presidential retreat on Saturday, the White House confirmed.
Joining them in the meeting were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Hadley’s Deputy Jack Crouch, Rethmeier said.
Talks to woo supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr back into Iraq’s ruling coalition broke up on Saturday without agreement after he insisted on a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. agencies