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BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
Thanks, Alison. Iraqi forces clashed again today with the Mahdi army in Baghdad. Hundreds of people have already fled Sadr City, where gun battles have raged since last week. Eleven American soldiers have died in Iraq over the past two days. The U.S. military announced that of those, four were killed in Baghdad on Monday, where fierce fighting is taking place with the Shiite militia. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's been one of the bloodiest 48 hours for U.S. forces in months. American soldiers are taking the lead and fighting the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad's slum of Sadr City. The close urban fighting and well-armed Mahdi army fighters has carried deadly consequences.
On Monday, two soldiers were killed in rocket-propelled grenade attacks. Another was killed with small-arms fire after his vehicle was hit with a roadside bomb. The fourth died when another roadside bomb blew up under his vehicle late last night. General David Petraeus, the head of all U.S. forces in Iraq, is testifying in front of Congress today.
His brainchild, the surge, has been successful in bringing down sectarian attacks in the Iraqi capital over the past year, but as the recent unrest and its cost to the U.S. military shows, Iraq is still far from stable.
MARTIN: NPR Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Baghdad. And Iraq will indeed be center stage in Washington today, as General Petraeus testifies before Congress, along with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker.
At issue, troop levels. Right now there are about 158 thousand U.S. troops in Iraq, and under plans announced last year, five brigades will be pulled out by July. That's about 20,000 troops. Petraeus is expected to argue today against further troop draw downs this year.
Texas officials say they've now taken more than 400 children into state custody after raiding a polygamous compound in west Texas. Authorities are investigations allegations that girls living in the compound were being sexually abused.
A spokesman for child protective services says it's the biggest single removal in the history of the agency. The children, now in custody, are joined at a shelter by 133 women, most of them mothers, who were taken from the compound near Eldorado over the past couple days. A hearing is scheduled for April 17th.
And the winners of the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes have been named. In the music category, Bob Dylan won an honorary prize for his impact on pop music and American culture. Tracy Letts won for his play "August: Osage County," and Junot Diaz won the fiction prize for his novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." But the big winner was the Washington Post, which received six Pulitzer Prizes. Here's NPR's David Folkenflik.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: The Post was recognized by the Pulitzers for work exposing shabby care for war veterans returning from Iraq, for casting light on Vice President Dick Cheney's influence over the Bush White House, for analyzing business trends, for covering the mass deaths at Virginia Tech, for revealing the unchecked excesses of civilian contractors in Iraq, and for an essay about high culture and low expectations, revealed when a virtuoso violinist was convinced to play for spare change at a Washington subway stop.
It is the second biggest haul in Pulitzer history, eclipsed only by the New York Times the year after the September 2001 attacks. Other papers honored included the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times, which shared a prize for investigative reporting, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for local coverage, and the Boston Globe for cultural criticism.
MARTIN: NPR's David Folkenflik reporting there. That's the news. It's always online at npr.org.
WOLFF: This is NPR.
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