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US, Iraqi Troops Clash with Shi'ite Militia in Karbala, 17 Killed


The U.S. military in Iraq says about 17 Shi'ite militiamen have been killed in battles with U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern city of Karbala.

A military statement says the fighting broke out Friday after U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a man described as a rogue leader of the Mahdi Army militia, which is loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The statement says five insurgents died in a gunbattle, while about 12 others were killed in an airstrike. The military denied reports from local Iraqi officials that civilians were among the dead and wounded.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military says coalition forces captured four suspected terrorists in a pre-dawn operation in Diyala province. The suspects are alleged to be involved in smuggling Iranian weapons into Iraq.

The military says American and Iraqi forces detained another Mahdi Army militia leader in a Baghdad neighborhood Thursday.

The U.S. military also announced the death of an American soldier from wounds suffered Thursday during operations in Diyala.

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

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