57 killed in Mosul and Baghdad violence
* Militants clash with US troops in Samarra
* US forces detain Zarqawi-linked militant
* Two Lebanese businessmen kidnapped
BAGHDAD: US troops killed 32 guerrillas in fierce clashes in Mosul and 32 people were killed, including six police, when Iraqi security forces were lured into searching a home of suspected foreign fighters in Baghdad that was rigged with explosives, officials said on Wednesday.
The police raided the home in Baghdad’s squalid Ghazaliya district late on Tuesday and were still inside when a massive blast ripped through the house, the interior ministry said.
Thirty people died, six of them police, a ministry officer said. Another 25 were wounded, including four policemen, and four police are still missing. “Our experts believe that, given the damage, the house was booby-trapped and the person who set it up tried to attract police to ensure the maximum possible number of deaths in their ranks,” added interior ministry spokesman Andan Abdul Rahman. Residents in the district said a Sudanese, who had just started renting the building opened fire on his neighbours to lure the police into the house.
“It was a trap and its author had stepped up attacks against residents with the aim of drawing in the police,” Abdul Rahman said, adding that women and children were among the casualties.
Police had surrounded the home thought to harbour “terrorist elements” late on Tuesday evening. The US army said an estimated 850-900 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast.
American troops backed by warplanes battled insurgents in the Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday, killing around 25 guerrillas in fierce clashes after being attacked by suicide bombs and rocket-propelled grenades.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings said a suicide vehicle bomb exploded near a US military outpost in Mosul, and a second suicide attack targeted a US patrol responding to the first blast. The patrol also had to negotiate several roadside bombs and when it reached the combat outpost, it came under attack from around 50 insurgents firing assault rifles, mortars and rocket- propelled grenades.
“Close air support was called in. Initial estimates are 25 enemy killed,” Hastings said.
He said 15 US troops were wounded in the clashes, none of whom had returned to active duty. Insurgents clashed with US and Iraqi forces in the centre of the northern town of Samarra on Wednesday, witnesses said. US helicopters circled above and the sound of gunfire could be heard. Shops were shut and the area was deserted. A US military spokesman said two patrols came under fire, adding there were no US casualties and the clashes were over.
A roadside bomb explosion wounded a US soldier and five Iraqi police officers in Samarra on Tuesday night, he said. Attacks on US and Iraqi government forces and civilians working for them have been relentless in the Muslim Sunni city, a centre of the anti-US insurgency.
An Iraqi National Guardsman was killed on Wednesday in the Siniya area west of Samarra, an officer in the US-backed force said. Around 110 Guards also resigned after their Siniya commander was killed in a car bomb explosion along with several Guards two weeks ago.
US forces have captured a man described as a senior commander of a militant group linked to Al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi government said on Wednesday. It said in a statement the 33-year-old Iraqi, whom it named only as Abu Marwan, was a leader of the hitherto unknown Abu Talha group, affiliated to the Jordanian militant whom Osama Bin Laden this week endorsed as his lieutenant in Iraq. A militant group, Ansar al-Sunna, said it was behind last week’s suicide bombing of a US mess tent in Mosul, which killed 18 Americans and three Iraqis.
The government statement did not say whether Abu Marwan was connected to that suicide bombing. “Abu Marwan was responsible for conducting and commanding terrorist operations in Mosul, purchasing weapons for Talha’s terrorist group, and coordinating the training of terrorist cells within the Abu Talha terrorist group,” it said. It said Abu Marwan had been detained six days ago after a tip-off from local residents. Armed men burst into a house in the upscale Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansour on Wednesday and seized two Lebanese businessmen, police said. agencies