BAGHDAD - Men armed with pistols, knives and steel pipes stormed into three Baghdad newspaper offices, beating employees and smashing computers after publication of an article about a Shi'ite Muslim cleric, police and editors said on Tuesday.

Monday's attacks illustrated the stubborn influence of hardline Islamist militias in Iraq, where Sunni and Shi'ite insurgents often imposed their own fundamentalist vision on the streets during the height of sectarian war a few years ago.

"A group of men armed with steel pipes and knives attacked three newspaper offices in Baghdad. Some of the employees were wounded and we have arrested two of the assailants," a police source said.

Yasir Tallas, an editor at Addustour, told Reuters that around 50 men in civilian clothes broke through the doors of the newspaper and smashed computers, furniture and printers.

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