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US, Iraqi Officials: Al-Qaida Training Children to Kidnap Civilians


U.S. and Iraqi officials say videotapes seized in a U.S. raid on suspected al-Qaida hideouts in Iraq show al-Qaida fighters training young children to kidnap civilians.

Videos aired for reporters Wednesday show scenes of boys about 10 years old wearing black masks, abducting civilians and holding a gun to their heads in a mock exercise. Other tapes show a boy wearing a suicide vest and posing with automatic weapons, and Iraqi forces rescuing a child kidnapped by militants in the northern city of Kirkuk.

The U.S. military says it seized five videos in a raid in December on a suspected al-Qaida base in Khan Bani Saad, north of Baghdad.

In violence today, Iraqi police say four people were killed and at least six wounded in a roadside bomb blast in Diwaniyah, south of the capital.

Elsewhere, police say gunmen killed two policemen and wounded at least two others in the northern city of Mosul.

In other news, the U.S. military says coalition forces rescued two men locked inside a storage container being used by militants as an underground prison in the desert near Samarra, north of Baghdad.

A military statement says the two men were malnourished and dehydrated, but were able to move freely inside the container. It also says the men told the U.S. military they knew of nine other prisoners at the site, including five from a local citizens group in Bayji.

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

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