At least 14 people were killed in clashes between rival Shia factions in southern Iraq overnight as prime minister Nouri al-Maliki tries to consolidate his control over the country.

Clashes began late on Tuesday, according to a local journalist in Karbala, after the radical Shia cleric Mahmoud Sarkhi Hassani, also known as al-Sarkhi, delivered a fiery speech which inspired some of his followers to attack a nearby police outpost.

In the ensuing clashes about 10 security officials were killed and Mr Sarkhi was arrested, according to the reporter – although this could not be confirmed. […]