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US Soldiers Capture Militants with Possible al-Qaeda Links North of  Baghdad - 2004-02-19


The US military said Wednesday soldiers have arrested seven militants with suspected ties to al-Qaida.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said the seven militants were captured in the town of Baquba, 60 kilometers north of the capital. They were arrested by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division along with 15 others in a raid on what they describe as an anti-coalition cell.

Baquba is in the heart of the so-called Sunni Triangle, where attacks against U.S. soldiers have become an almost daily occurrence. Iraqi police said the group was suspected of involvement in a number of recent attacks in the area. They did not say what the nationalities of the suspects were, but the coalition has repeatedly blamed attacks on foreign elements with links to terrorist groups.

The arrests come one day after the U.S.-led coalition announced a new system of incentives offering higher rewards for information leading to wanted individuals in Iraq.

Earlier Wednesday, twin car bombs at a Polish military base south of Baghdad killed at least 11 Iraqis and injured scores of others. A coalition spokesman in Baghdad said men, women and children were among the dead and wounded. A number of homes near the base were destroyed in the blast. Among those injured were soldiers from Poland, Hungary and the United States.