BATTLE ZONESunni and Shia Tribes Clash in Babel
Iraqi Army Frees 22 Hostages South of Baghdad06/03/2007 12:54 PM ET
HILLA, Babel (Al-Malaf Press) – An Iraqi Army force freed 22 hostages in the Dayra area of the Babel governorate south of Baghdad, while fierce clashes broke out between Sunni and Shi’ite tribes in northern Babel, according to security sources in Hilla.
“Unknown gunmen abducted two transport buses carrying 22 civilians on the highway between Hilla and Baghdad, which required the intervention of a force from the 4th Iraqi Army Brigade to free the hostage,” said an unnamed Iraqi security source. The gunmen fled to an unknown location, he said.
Insurgent groups often abduct Shi’ite civilians at this dangerous part of the Babel governorate, known as the Triangle of Death and predominately inhabited by Sunni Arabs.
Security sources in the Babel governorate also mentioned that armed clashes have broke out between the Sunni Arab tribes of Janabiyeen and Girtan on one hand, and the Shi’ite Mas’oud tribe at Muwaylha, a rural area in northern Babel.
“The two Sunni tribes attacked the Shi’ite tribe on Sunday, and fierce clashes have been going on in the area ever since,” the sources said, adding that casualties from both sides are still unknown.
The Mas’oud and Janabiyeen tribes had set up a meeting to resolve the conflict, attended by Dr. Fa’al Ni’ma, the prime minister’s advisor on tribal affairs, Babel Governor Salim Salih Al-Musilmawi, and a number of Iraqi Army officers. Sources said that the meeting ended without reaching an agreement between the two tribes, as the Janabiyeen tribe denied that it is harboring Al-Qaeda militants who target Shi’ite civilians, while the Mas’oud tribe asserted that it does.