By Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra
Associated Press
Published March 22, 2007


BAGHDAD -- The Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army is breaking into splinter groups, with as many as 3,000 gunmen now financed directly by Iran and no longer loyal to the firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr, adding a potentially even more deadly element to Iraq's violent mix.

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