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Sandstorm Delays Anbar Security Transfer From US to Iraqi Forces


U.S. military officials in Iraq say they are delaying a transfer of security control in western Anbar province to Iraqi forces, originally due on Saturday, due to concerns about an impending sandstorm.

Based on weather forecasts Friday, the military says senior American and Iraqi officials might be unable to join a ceremony that will mark the transfer of power. Senior provincial official Ahmed Abu Risha, head of Anbar's U.S.-backed Awakening Council says Iraqi security forces agreed it would be best to postpone the handover.

A U.S. spokesman says the delay was not caused by a suicide bomber's attack Thursday on a municipal office in Anbar. The blast killed 23 people attending a meeting between local officials and a group of tribesmen opposed to al-Qaida.

Separately, the U.S. military says troops have killed one suspected militant and detained eight others in separate operations across Iraq. One of the men arrested is suspected of involvement in the Anbar attack on Thursday.

Violence in Anbar province has dropped off sharply since 2006. That area of western Iraq will become the 10th province to revert to Iraqi security control.

Elsewhere, Iraqi officials say unidentified gunmen shot and killed a senior judge as he was driving to his home in eastern Baghdad on Friday. Judge Kamil al-Showaili headed one of the capital's two appeals courts.

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

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