US military kills nine Al Qaeda suspects in Iraq

March 7th, 2008 - 12:06 am ICT by admin  

Baghdad, March 6 (DPA) US and Iraqi forces killed nine suspected fighters from the Al Qaeda terrorist network in an operation in Talafar in northern Iraq, the US military and Iraqi officials said Thursday. Meanwhile, thousands of Iraqi troops were deployed in the southern city of Basra to crack down on lawbreakers.

Three Iraqi troops were killed and three wounded in the anti-Al Qaeda operation, which targeted a suspected insurgents’ training camp Sunday. Three civilians were also wounded and eight suspects detained.

The military said troops discovered electrical wire and blasting caps for making improvised explosive devices as well as guns, grenades, a rocket launcher, a landmine and more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition.

The US and Iraqi officials say Nineveh province has become a safe haven for Sunni insurgents who were driven out of Baghdad and surrounding areas after the launch of a major offensive there.

In southern Iraq, about 3,000 additional troops have been deployed in Basra as part of a security crackdown on criminal gangs and armed groups.

The city police backed by Iraqi army units launched the operation after a recent surge in killings and kidnappings, the state-owned newspaper al-Sabah cited the city police chief, Abdel-Jalil Khalaf, as saying.

A senior officer from the Nassiriyah police department, Qassim Ebid, and his three companions were killed in central Basra Monday. Qassim was a member of the Shia Badr militia of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council.

Rival Shia militias have been jockeying for power in Basra, 550 km south of the capital Baghdad. Criminal activities involving gangs and smugglers have been reported there.

Britain handed over responsibility for security in Basra in December but British troops have maintained a base near Basra airport.

In another development, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior is working with Iraq’s union of journalists to allow them to carry guns for self-protection, the state-owned al-Iraqiya television channel quoted General Abdel-Karim Khalaf as saying.

At least 270 Iraqi and foreign journalists have been killed in Iraq since the US-led war began in March 2003. The latest such attacks targeted in February the chief of the union of journalists, Shihab al-Tamimi, who succumbed to his wounds three days after the attack.

A ministry committee is now preparing journalist casualty figures and the type of attacks on them, said Khalaf, who head the central command centre at the interior ministry.

The committee has gathered important intelligence about assailants, who will be brought to justice, the official said.

The union of journalists will be provided with round-the-clock security, al-Arabiya reported.

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