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US Expects al-Qaida in Iraq to Stage 'Spectacular Attacks' After Setbacks


11 July 2007

The U.S. military says it expects al-Qaida in Iraq to lash out with "spectacular attacks" after major U.S.-led offensives have disrupted the group's activities.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, said Wednesday that 26 senior al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured in May or June.

General Bergner described al-Qaida as the main near term security threat in Iraq. His comments follow several days of violence that killed more than 250 people.

The U.S. military also said that coalition forces killed two terrorists and detained 20 suspects during raids throughout Iraq Wednesday targeting al-Qaida. The military said a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in the town of Sherween has killed 20 terrorists since Tuesday.

Iraq's Interior Ministry says security forces Wednesday seized 200 suicide bomb belts from a truck that entered the country from Syria.

In other news, Germany's foreign minister says one of two German hostages held in Iraq since February has been freed. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin that Hannelore Krause was released Tuesday. Her adult son is still a captive.

A militant Islamist group had threatened to kill the two hostages unless Germany pulled out of Afghanistan.

Germany has about 3,000 troops in northern Afghanistan as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. military said a suspected terrorist has been detained in southwest Baghdad. In a statement, the military said the suspect, an unidentified male, is believed to be affiliated with a terror group known as Jaysh al-Mahdi.

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



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