U.S. troops have launched new raids around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, arresting suspected insurgents and seizing weapons in an effort to secure the city for the January 30 vote.
The U.S. military says nine people were arrested overnight, and nearly 200 have been detained over the past week. A hospital in Mosul also came under attack from insurgents Thursday, but no casualties were reported.
South of Mosul, in Beiji, officials say a Brazilian construction worker is missing after gunmen ambushed his car Wednesday. Two other contractors - a Briton and an Iraqi - were killed in the same attack.
And Chinese officials say they are working with Muslim clerics to secure the release of eight Chinese hostages. The kidnappers have threatened to kill the men Thursday if Beijing does not clarify its role in Iraq.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.