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Blood-Soaked Morning In Iraq

A Wednesday morning raid by American soldiers in Baqouba, backed up by aircraft, killed four suspected militants and four civilians, while four other people died in scattered violence around Iraq.

In Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, U.S. forces chasing a militant with alleged links to leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq came under heavy fire from their target building.

Two suspects were killed, and the military then called in airstrikes due to the heavy volume of fire from the building.

After aircraft fired multiple rounds at the building, soldiers moved in and found that two additional suspects and four women civilians had been killed.

Inside the building, troops found weapons and a global positioning system, the military said.

"Coalition forces strive to mitigate risks to civilians while in pursuit of terrorists," the military said. "Terrorists continue to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence."

In other developments:

  • Iraqi security forces arrested another leader of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a group accused of numerous attacks on U.S. forces, the General Command of the Armed Forces said Wednesday. The man was arrested Tuesday night in the village of al-Jazira, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, said Brig. Qassim al-Mussawi. The operation follows the arrest of another leader of the group and seven aides early Saturday in the same area. Authorities have not released the insurgents' names, citing security. The Sunni militant group, a mixture of Iraqi nationalists and Islamic extremists, is believed to be responsible for numerous attacks against U.S. forces and a series of kidnappings.
  • Iraqi and U.S. authorities released 62 prisoners, apparently followers of militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, as part of the Iraqi prime minister's national reconciliation efforts. The buses ferrying detainees were seen escorted by the U.S. military to a main bus station in central Baghdad. As they got off the bus, the former prisoners chanted slogans in support of al-Sadr, who twice launched revolts against U.S. military occupation in 2004.

  • Meanwhile, the sectarian violence plaguing Iraq continued Wednesday.

    Gunmen assaulted two Sunni mosques and sprayed bullets into Sunni homes in a mixed neighborhood in sectarian violence that killed three people and wounded 15, many of them attackers suspected of being followers of a radical Shiite cleric.

    More apparent victims of death squads were found south of Baghdad and were turned over to the Kut morgue, Mahmoun Ajeel al-Rubaie, a morgue official said.

    The corpses of nine people were pulled out of the Tigris river. They had been blindfolded, had their hands and legs tied, and showed signs of torture, al-Rubaie said.

    The body of a civilian kidnapped the night before was also turned in to the morgue after being found in an industrial area of the city, according to al-Rubaie.

    On the eastern side of the city, the bodies of 23 men were found dumped in streets, all with bullet wounds and most showing signs of torture - hallmarks of sectarian killings that have raged since a Shiite shrine was bombed in Samarra last February.

    In Baghdad, a police detective was killed in a morning attack, when a bomb hidden in his car detonated, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majeed said.

    The blast on the city center's Rasheed Street also wounded one passer by, Majeed said.

    In the capital's Dora district, an official of the neighborhood power station and a friend were killed, police said. The two were shot by unknown assailants while driving through the area.

    In Karma, 50 miles west of Baghdad, an Iraqi soldier on foot patrol was gunned down by a sniper, according to an Iraqi police lieutenant.

    In clashes between gunmen and an Iraqi army patrol in the northern city of Mosul, one insurgent was killed and three others arrested, police said.

    A civilian was injured in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, when a gunman opened fire from a moving car, police said.

    Two Iraqi soldiers were also killed and three wounded when unidentified people opened fire on them in their car in an area south of Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad.

    The incident occurred Tuesday evening, officials said.

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