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US Military: 20 Al Qaida Militants Killed in Raid in Central Iraq

08 December 2006

The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have killed 20 suspected al-Qaida militants, including two women, during a ground and air operation in central Iraq.

A military statement said the operation took place Friday in the Thar Thar region of Salahaddin province, north of Baghdad.

It said ground forces called in air strikes when they came under heavy gunfire while searching buildings in the targeted area.

The military also issued pictures of a weapons cache that it said was confiscated during the operation.

Separately, British and Danish troops in southern Iraq detained five militia leaders in a coordinated raid on five houses on the outskirts of Basra city.

British Major Charlie Burbridge, a spokesman for coalition forces in the region, said more than 1,000 troops carried out the raids, confiscating a large cache of arms, including rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, and assault rifles.

The spokesman said the detainees are members of a "rogue, breakaway faction" of one of the many Shi'ite militias operating in the region.

In Baghdad, the U.S. military said a roadside bomb blast killed one American soldier. It said the attack took place while U.S. and Iraqi troops were conducting a joint patrol to prevent sectarian violence in a western part of the city.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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