Spooky's working in Najaf.
43 insurgents dead in Najaf fighting
A number of insurgents have been killed in fierce fighting with US-led coalition forces near the central Iraqi city of Najaf, a military spokeswoman says.
The spokeswoman says an AC-130 aircraft has killed 43 anti-coalition forces and destroyed an anti-aircraft system.
An AFP correspondent reports that fighting broke out between US troops and Iraqi militia loyal to wanted Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at an entrance to the southern city of Kufa, about 10 kilometres from Najaf.
Heavy gunfire and the sound of mortar explosions have been heard, the correspondent says.
A member of Sadr’s Mehdi Army told the correspondent the militia had clashed with a US Army unit at the northern entrance of Kufa, about 160 kilometres south of Baghdad, and on the outskirts of Najaf.
At around 1:00am (local time) on Tuesday, the clashes subsided and the firing became intermittent.
“The clashes … are a provocation, but the red line has still not yet been crossed,” Qais al-Khazaali, a Mehdi Army spokesman, told Al-Jazeera television.
“To enter Najaf means to pour scorn on the Muslim holy places whether they are Sunni or Shiite. But we are ready, we are organised and we are coordinated.”
To give an idea of how on earth a C-130 Hercules can kill 43 people and destroy an anti-aircraft position, I present the AC-130U Spectre (or Spooky) Developed during the Vietnam War for close-air support, these aircraft are a cargo aircraft converted into a flying artillery base, capable of either putting a 4” artillery round through a window, saturating areas the size of a football field with 20mm or 25mm rounds, or plinking individual vehicles with a 2-pound 40mm shell.For a good comparison, think of an old-style ship of the line, with a side lined with tank-killing Gatlings that can hurl 1,800 rounds a minute, howitzers that can fire 6-10 rounds a minute and Vulcan autocannon. Now imagine it making a tight and slow circle around a specified position, lighting up those weapons, and having enough ammunition to actually sustain the above rates of fire for more than a few minutes. If they’re on your side, they’re your best friend for close-in air support. If not, you never want them anywhere near you, especially if you can’t shoot them down.
Moment of Zen