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Coalition Forces Kill 3 Militants in Northern Iraq

The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have killed three suspected militants and detained 12 others during recent operations targeting al-Qaida in the north of the country.

A military statement says troops killed two militants Saturday during a raid south of Mosul. Elsewhere, Iraqi and coalition forces shot and killed an armed man in Kirkuk during an operation targeting a kidnapping network.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility today for a suicide attack that killed at least 23 people in western Anbar province Thursday. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, posted the claim on a militant Web site.

The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately verified.

But U.S. military officials had earlier blamed al-Qaida for the Anbar attack, in which two local Iraqi officials and three U.S. Marines were also killed. The victims were attending a meeting between local officials and a group of tribesmen opposed to al-Qaida.

U.S. military officials say they are delaying a transfer of security control to Iraqi forces in Anbar, originally due today, because of concerns about an impending sandstorm. A U.S. spokesman says the delay was not caused by Thursday's attack on a municipal office.

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 sharply since 2006. That area of western Iraq would become the 10th province to revert to Iraqi security control.

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